Chilton to make F1 debut for Marussia in 2013

2013 F1 season

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Max Chilton will make his Formula One race debut for Marussia in 2013, the team has confirmed.

Chilton will partner Timo Glock next year, taking the place of Charles Pic who has moved to Caterham.

“It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling today,” said Chilton.

“I am very fortunate to have spent the last six races with the Marussia F1 Team as reserve driver, which means that instead of a standing start, I am already up to speed and at ease with the people, the culture, the systems and of course, the 2012 package.

“During the period since the Japanese Grand Prix, I have watched at very close quarters the incredible commitment and determination to succeed that saw everyone in the team pushing until the very last race. I feel very lucky to be able to embark on my F1 racing career with this group of people.”

“Pre-season testing is just a few weeks away, so my focus now is to continue my physical preparation whilst spending as much time as possible working with the technical team to help develop the car I will drive in my debut F1 season.”

Chilton, 21, drove for the team during the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this year, as well as at the Young Drivers’ Test sessions.

He spent the last three seasons in GP2, finishing fourth in this year’s championship with two wins for Carlin. He is the younger brother of World Touring Car Championship driver Tom Chilton.

Marussia team principal John Booth said: “We have spent a significant amount of time evaluating his performances during 2012, both in our own car in a testing situation and also from the pit wall as we monitored his progress alongside the other members of our junior talent pool during Grand Prix support races.

“We felt confident enough in his ability and potential to appoint him to the role of reserve driver in September and since that time his development has been rapid in all aspects. First and foremost, he has shown himself to be extremely capable in the car.

“Most recently, in Abu Dhabi, he was put to the test in a competitive environment which included providing him with an opportunity to demonstrate his outright pace and consistency over a single lap. We saw just how much he has progressed even since the Silverstone test in the summer and through the succession of GP2 races thereafter, when he achieved two pole positions and two race wins.

“Not only that, Max very quickly embedded himself within the team, thanks in no small part to the fact that he is a lively and affable character who we’ve enjoyed having around. Having been integral to our race weekend engineering environment for the past three months already – as well as having undertaken a significant part of our simulator programme – Max has already found his feet.”

Chilton is the third rookie driver to be confirmed for 2013, joining Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.

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Image © Marussia

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Chilton to make F1 debut for Marussia in 2013”

  1. What a surprise.
    I wonder if Virgin/Marussia can go a year without changing its line up.

    1. I agree. 2010: Lucas DiGrassi, 2011: Jerome D’ambrosio, 2102: Charles Pic: 2013: Max Chilton… 2014: ???

      I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think he’s ready.

  2. I know it’s wrong of me to judge before he even participates in his first race but I have literally not expectations for him what so ever. I just hope he doesn’t crumble under the immense pressure the British mass media are inevitably going to put on him like they did with di Resta.

    1. @davef1 There’s a conspicuous lack of championship success in the lower categories on his CV – but then the same was true of Pic and he did well.

      Obviously he’s got a lot of money behind him thanks to his father being on the board at Aon. I didn’t rate him particularly highly a few years ago. I saw him racing in F3 at Oulton Park and he came past me long before the rest of the field did – unfortunately because he’d jumped the start by a considerable margin.

      However his rate of improvement in GP2 this year has been very good, so it could prove a timely step up to the top flight.

    2. Well, like Tina Turner sang:

      You’ve read about my past
      But why don’t we try to make a new start

      I think we should give every F1 debutant the benefit of the doubt, no matter if his name is Bottas, Chilton or van der Garde and whatever the size of his moneybag is. Let’s give Chilton at least one full season to prove himself before starting to judge if he deserves to be in F1 on merit or not.

      1. You’re mixing two questions there. The first question is should he be in F1 on merit? And that is the nswer which needs asking now. The question to ask after a year is should he stay in F1 on merit?
        The answer to number 2 isn’t necessarily linked to number 1, and we’ve seen plenty of times before people who maybe shouldn’t get into F1 on merit, but then show they should stay in F1 on merit.

        Asking whether he should be getting into F1 on merit is a valid question. After 1 year it is a completely different proposition.

        1. It is a valid question but it is a question that you cannot answer for sure. Of course, you can have an opinion, which young drivers deserve to be promoted to F1 and we had a good discussion & poll about that recently. What I wanted to say is that, once the youngster is hired, we shouldn’t say ‘oh, he’ll be useless, they just picked him because he’s got a rich daddy’ but respect that team’s decision and give the driver time to prove himself.

  3. *Insert witty boy-band member comment here*

    1. Member of the Back-Straight Boys, or maybe N-Synchromesh.

  4. “Pre-season testing is just a few weeks away, so my focus now is to continue my physical preparation”

    A few weeks away? Does he know when pre season testing starts? Or he just doesn’t know which time of year it is?

    1. @osvaldas31 It’s about six weeks. If you’re a young driver with a lot of fitness training to do that probably doesn’t seem like long!

  5. From the few GP2 races I’ve watched this year, he definitely seems to have some speed, and in fact for me stood out more in races than Gutierrez. But, as Liam Stroud above me said, there’s no point speculating at the moment.

  6. A true pay driver taking another seat, very disappointing

    1. The days of pay drivers like Jean-Denis Deletraz – rich playboys who fancied themselves as racing drivers and who had more money than talent – are over. The tiered structure of feeder series plus the demand for a superlicence before Formula 1 teams will even consider a driver means that any aspiring Formula 1 driver needs to have a minimum level of talent before he can actually enter the championship. And while Max Chilton might not have the raw talent that gets people excited about a driver (like they do with Antonio Felix da Costa), he certainly does have some impressive results to his name: two wins, two podiums and two pole positions in GP2 this year, plus points-scoring finishes in sixteen out of twenty-four races and a final finishing position of fourth overall certainly suggest that he does have the talent required to at least keep his head above the water in Formula 1. Whether or not he does is entirely up to him.

      1. PS – If you want to see a “true pay driver”, look no further than Ricardo Teixeira who is somehow racing in GP2 and was one of Caterham’s test and reserve drivers last year despite having won just one race in a second-tier British Formula 3 championship in his twelve-year career …

      2. Well said @prisoner-monkeys . Far too many people still throw the term “pay-driver” around like it is a dirty word, stigmatising drivers in the process by assuming that the driver in question is more of a Delatraz or a Belmondo than a Vettel or a Hamilton. The simple fact of the matter is that F1 has changed, the world has changed and most importantly the economic climate has changed. Today being able to bring a budget to a F1 team is just as important as being able to lap quickly, so drivers who do shouldn’t ridiculed for it.

      3. Johnny Carwash was my favourite true Paydriver.

  7. When was the last time there were 4 Brits on the grid?

    1. The 2008 Spanish Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson.

  8. Always great to have a father that can spend other people’s money (Aon-shareholders) without any questions being raised. Im sure he has some talent, but without daddy he would have never made it into F1.

  9. I was prepared to write Chilton off as a rich kid racing beyond his means when he raced in GP2 in 2011 with Carlin. However, his turn-around in 2012 was remarkable, and so I’m inclined to believe that his problems in 2011 were more to do with Carlin being poorly-managed, or just down to teething problems with entering a new category.

    However, I think his bouncing around and family ties to the Carlin team make him rather difficult to assess as a potential Formula 1 driver. His 2012 season impressed me, but only because he’d had such a poor run in 2011. So I think he falls halfway along the spectrum between pay driver and promising talent, having done enough to merit consideration for a Formula 1 drive, but only with a paying sponsor to his name. That is going to make 2013 absolutely critical to his career because he needs to prove himself, and quickly – and given Marussia’s high turn-over of second drivers, liffe is going to be all the more difficult for him, particularly since Nikolai Fomenko was talking up the idea of taking Vitaly Petrov for the sake of having a Russian driver racing for a Russian team at the first Russian Grand Prix in the same interview where here announced Chilton would race for his team.

    In short, he’s starting on the back foot – perhaps moreso than any other new driver to join the grid since Yuji Ide.

    1. @prisoner-monkeys Do you not think Petrov would be more likely to replace Glock as their #1 driver? I cant really see Glock doing another season with Marussia.

      1. Glock has two years left in his contract. If that matters..

  10. What a nice Christmas present from daddy

  11. I am just one month younger to this guy…….He is in Formula1 already…….It’s the first time that we have an F1 driver born in 1991. Jaime Alguersuari was born in 1990

    1. @malleshmagdum Hehe welcome to the club. Alguersuari is exactly one year younger than me :(

      1. @george It feels strange, doesnt it? I am still in college….this guy has reached F1.

  12. I am neither excited nor disappointed by this news…I just don’t know what to make of him yet.

  13. He’s rather young and I will need at least 18 months before passing judgement, but unless he beats Glock, he could be just another Marussia/Virgin driver, hopefully age will be on his side though, I like seeing more Brits on the grid.

    1. @craig-o

      I will need at least 18 months before passing judgement

      To quote Albert Camus: “Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.”
      You may need 18 months but read on, its already happening! :)
      P.S: Am not sure why one needs to judge him actually

  14. Well racing is certainly in his blood. Wish him all the best, but dont expect much as the car probably wont be much cause for concern to anybody but Caterham. Not many people get an opportunity like this, so let’s hope he can make it stick, perhaps even be only the second driver to do more than two years with Marussia/Virgin!

    I’d like to see when James Calado get’s a shot, if he does at all. I think he is the more promising Brit in GP2 in 2012.

    1. @jamesf1

      I’d like to see when James Calado get’s a shot, if he does at all. I think he is the more promising Brit in GP2 in 2012.

      I certainly think he was the most promising rookie in GP2 this year. Though with the caveat that the quality of the GP2 field at the moment is not as strong as it has been in the past.

    2. I think we’re likely to see Marussia press on next season. I know this has been common rhetoric with the new teams for the past few years, but they appear to have their house in order, they’re getting KERS on the car, and with the regulations remaining pretty much the same they can push on from the end of this season where they really closed in.

      1. Of course whether they can do this with Max Chilton is something else entirely. Maybe the cash will help them develop a better car for Glock to race in.

    3. Congrats to Max, what a brilliant opportunity to learn F1 without too much pressure. He won’t be the finished article yet (but neither will half the midfield) and the criticism of his decision-making in the races has been done to death by Will Buxton and, no doubt, a load of fans parroting his commentary.

      Chilton’s proved he’s rapid over one lap, and eye-catching qualifying performances could be the best way to launch himself further into F1. And if the car’s good enough to compete with midfield stragglers, that’s a bonus. Marussia’s aero updates certainly compared well with Caterham’s.

      I agree about Calado, but it’s great to see so many good British drivers coming through. I rate Sam Bird and Nick Yelloly too, but I’d be amazed (and delighted) if they all get a proper shot in today’s money-grabbing, shrinking F1 field.

  15. I can think of alot of young drivers who are more deserving of a drive in F1. Robert Wickens, Robin Frijns or even Sam Bird..

    1. But would you want to drive for Marussia?

      1. Well if you can put it up to a highly rated teamate like Glock then you have every chance of getting noticed by the bigger teams.

  16. Another driver who will see his career flame out by 23. Decades of sportscar racing await him. To get washed out of a lower tier team at this young age helps no one. What a waste of money. There is nothing wrong with sportscar racing, but maybe we should groom these guys a little more before we throw them on the pyre.

    1. If he is really good he will stand out, no matter what team he is in, yes his chances don’t look very good in Marussia to stay more than one season, but look at Pic he will be in F1 next year so everything can happen.

      1. Very true. Some do stay around. I guess I just look at it from an old guy’s perspective. Maybe if they learn a bit more, then they can stay around longer. I am getting tired of seeing guys come up and get spit out, but so it has always been, and so it will always be. At the least, we should be getting a decent coherent junior formula ladder going again. They complain about cost all of the time, but how many are in line to take their money on the way up?

  17. petebaldwin (@)
    18th December 2012, 17:05

    I love how people moan about him being a pay driver and say things like “nice present from daddy” etc as though they’d be able to get anywhere near F1 if they had the money!

    You have to be very highly skilled to make it to F1 with or without money. There are perhaps some who aren’t as good as others but get the chance because they bring sponsors with them but when you have a team like Marussia on the grid who are working with very little money and very few sponsors, they need to being in a driver like Chilton.

  18. But Will Marussia start the season?

    1. According to Bernie everyone’s signed up for next year, the only team i know that might have been a bit hesitant was Mercedes but considering they have Hamilton on board, i don’t see them pulling out.

  19. Not really important, but at the first moment, when I saw the pic, before I saw title, I thought this is an article about some woman who got a drive in F1.

    1. In all seriousness, he is a very attractive boy.

  20. Abdurahman (@)
    19th December 2012, 7:31

    I got to see Chilton tooling around at the back of a WTCC race in Sonoma this year. Not sure if it was car troubles, I hope so.

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