Home Featured Chilton moves closer to Marussia seat with reserve role

Chilton moves closer to Marussia seat with reserve role

by Peter Allen

Photo: GP2 Media Service

British driver seemingly on the brink of a 2013 F1 race seat after Marussia promote him to the role of reserve for the rest of this year…

Max Chilton has been promoted to the role of reserve driver at the Marussia F1 Team for the remainder of the 2012 season, seemingly moving him closer to a race seat for 2013.

The 21-year-old tested for the Banbury squad when they conducted their Young Driver Test at Silverstone following the British Grand Prix. He’s been racing in Marussia colours in GP2 this season with the Carlin team – which is owned by his multi-millionaire father Grahame. Chilton Sr was vice-chairman at insurance giant Aon until March this year when he stepped down to become non-executive chairman of the firm’s holding company. A motor racing fan, his other son Tom races for an Aon-sponsored team in the World Touring Car Championship and Grahame was linked with a buy-in at the John Booth-led F1 team as far back as 2009 when the outfit was yet to turn a wheel and Max was still in British F3.

After two difficult seasons in GP2 with backmarkers Ocean and then series newcomers Carlin, Max Chilton has become a frontrunner in 2012. He has shown consistent one-lap pace and claimed two pole positions. The first of those in Hungary he converted into a maiden race win, but only managed fourth from first on the grid last time out at Monza. He took two podium finishes earlier in the year – second in Monaco and third in Malaysia.

“I?m delighted to be given this fantastic opportunity to be part of the Marussia F1 Team for the remainder of the 2012 season,” said Chilton. “My experience with the team at Silverstone for the Young Driver Test was a great taste of how F1 operates, and I?m so excited to be able to extend that into a proper working relationship as Reserve Driver at the remaining F1 events this year. I feel like my racing has really matured this season and to now be able to combine that with real insight into the engineering activities of an F1 team and the level of preparation required of an F1 driver, really moves my career onto the next level. I?d like to thank the team once again for this opportunity.”

Booth added: “As part of our commitment to supporting the next generation of racing talent, we naturally keep a close eye on the feeder formulae, particularly those which race alongside us on the F1 calendar. We reinforced our support for GP2 as the key stepping stone this season by joining forces with Carlin to form the Marussia Carlin GP2 entry. Max Chilton?s impressive performances for the team this season have gone far from unnoticed and he seems to mature with each new round. We were all delighted to see him convert that into, first, his maiden pole position and then his inaugural victory in Hungary last month. An important part of the education of any young driver looking to progress to the highest level of motor sport is spending time working closely with the engineering community and other, more experienced drivers. This is an important element of our Young Driver Programme. In the role of our Reserve Driver for the rest of the 2012 season, Max will be exposed to the demands of competing in Formula 1 to the extent that he will be fully prepared to step into the MR01 should it be required. Max has already driven the car at our Young Driver Test, so this is an opportunity for him to build on his experience of working with the engineers as well as the other demands placed on our drivers, including marketing activity. We look forward to having him on board as part of the Marussia F1 Team.”

Chilton’s chances for 2013 are boosted by the impressive rookie performances of existing Marussia driver Charles Pic – who also enjoys strong financial backing from his family – leading to him being linked with bigger teams for next year. Timo Glock’s future is also not 100% certain even if he has a contract for next season.