Marussia replace Chilton with Rossi for Belgian GP

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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Alexander Rossi will make his Formula One debut in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in place of Max Chilton.

Marussia say the change is being made due to “contractual issues” with Chilton.

Team principal John Booth said: “Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his Grand Prix debut at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Franchorchamps.”

“Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action.”

Rossi, who joined Marussia last month after leaving Caterham, said: “It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula One for the first time and I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team for the faith they are demonstrating in me.”

“It’s a very big moment for me and there’s a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now. It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend.”

Rossi will be the first American driver to compete in a Formula One race since Scott Speed in the 2007 European Grand Prix.

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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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81 comments on “Marussia replace Chilton with Rossi for Belgian GP”

  1. Whoa, brilliant!

    1. @wsrgo Turns out there’s more – Chilton says he gave up the seat of his own choosing so Marussia could sell it:

      Chilton says he ‘voluntarily’ gave up Marussia seat

      1. @keithcollantine That’s a first…stepping aside? Perhaps his ties with the team aren’t cut yet, maybe we’ll see him back?

      2. Just wow!

        How much is the seat for one race?

    2. @wsrgo I know right!!!!

      The fact we suddenly, out of the blue, have two new drivers in the two slowest teams (if you ignore Sauber as a one-off), one of which was at Caterham before, and had his number 45 taken by the person who is going to drive in Caterham, and is heading over to the rival team!

      Exciting, even if it is at the cost of Kobayashi :/

      1. Ooh, imagine if Rossi chose the number 1 higher than his 45, and went for 46.

        Rossi as number 46, where have I heard that?

        1. Wow that would indeed be something…

        2. Dr. Rossi’s already used 46 in an F1 car. But not an in official session, and before the current rules came in.

          Has the FIA decided yet which numbers the two newcomers are using? Maybe it needs to set up a new task force or Working Group.

      2. rossi will be using number 42 on his car.

        1. But what was the question?

          1. ^ Brilliant

  2. He’ll be happy he switched from Caterham to the other slow dog only like a week ago?

    1. I’m beginning to suspect a race seat was on the cards at the time, which proved to be the motivating force.

  3. “Contractual issues” – presumably he’s running out of money to buy his seat?

    1. Or he asked the team if his seat could be based on his talent rather than his dads wallet.

    2. Just two hours prior to this announcement german media stated Marussia was late in arriving at Spa due to not being able to pay the trip (which would mean they are actually very close to a complete collapse): Link Also, they seem to have not paid for the engines yet, resulting in a double-digit-millions debt to Ferrari.

      1. @crammond Here comes LdM’s next excuse then..

      2. @crammond is this a reliable source (I don’t know much about the German media)? Please tell me it’s not, because I think Marussia is much more likely to jump into the midfield than Caterham, especially now that they’re using the wind tunnel.

        1. @zjakobs
          It´s not as reliable and good as “Auto Motor und Sport”, but it´s also not as bad as a tabloid. So “medium reliability”, if that is a thing, I guess…

      3. Come on Ferrari, buy Marussia, cmoe on, half-decent B Team.

        1. @austus True, although Toro Rosso would probably be the best option for that, ironically.

          What about Haas? Combine their entry bond money with Marussia’s prize money for next year, and you have a UK base, complete yearly budget…

      4. Ruble collapse + banking sanctions = American driver ?

        1. @hohum And of course, the British will follow what America wants. How ironic..

      5. Here comes some crazy silly season rumours: I’ve seen speculation that Rossi is tied to Haas who (will be) tied to Ferrari. Marussia had problems paying for the Ferrari engines and somehow or another this was a solution. In this scenario Haas is paying Marussia who will pay Ferrari. Haas supposedly wants to get Rossi some experience before he starts his own team.

        Does Rossi have other personal sponsors big enough to buy a race seat?

  4. Copycats!

    1. That was my thought too, they try to grab the headline from Caterham!

  5. Contractual issues being the team figuring out how much more money Max will pay them to keep his seat. I’m very interested to see how Rossi gets on though. His GP2 results are less than spectacular though so I can’t see him staying in F1 past this weekend.

  6. Max’s sponsors haven’t paid up then.

  7. Is “contractual issues” code for “the money hasn’t turned up”?

    1. Has been since the 90s. ;)

      1. In both directions.

  8. Oh dear, the money’s dried up…never mind, there’s still time for Max to join the other superstars in Formula E.
    Pleased to see Rossi get a go – and (like Lotterer) get a race. He may not have lit GP2 up, but he’s showed he can handle an F1 car in his practice runs.

    1. @bullfrog Well, there’s only one seat left in Formula E, so he’s going to need his wallet refilling very very quickly, not that those teams are really after pay drivers.

  9. While it is a shame for Max as a driver, he is after all or was at least at the track for the weekend having seen the Thursday gallery on the official site. However, this proves a major event for Rossi. To take advantage of this opportunity and show some of what he is capable is really exciting. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing a comparison to Lotterer given neither have masses of experience with their respective teams. If we are correct to presume Chilton is starting to run out of money could he be off the grid next season? Could it be one of the factors excluding where Bianchi may end up why they won’t decide drivers until December?

  10. Nice ! truly happy ! I hope there’s a hole in Max’s wallet and the money’s gone missing !

    :) Goodluck Alex ! Show’em how’s it done !

    1. I do not hope that at all and is not because i love Chilton but because Marusia needs that money.

  11. I’m pretty certain that Marussia are the first team to replace a regular driver with a reserve driver since Lotus in 2012!

    1. Also, now I can’t pick Chilton for pole this weekend, damn :(

      1. @craig-o @keithcollantine Wait, can we still vote for Chilton as driver of the weekend? :(

    2. @craig-o Ironically Rossi was originally Caterham’s reserve too!

  12. They should just go ahead and make it a rule that every team has to run a new driver this weekend!

  13. Good, I really can’t stand Chilton.

  14. As an American, I am glad to be witnessing this as it unfolds. I wonder if it has some sort of tie-in with Haas and Ferrari?

    1. Not sure, but Rossi definitely has to be on Haas’s shortlist for a drive since he’s stated he wants one American.

      1. but is he fast though? I don’t watch every GP2 race ut as far as I’m aware off he hasn’t been spectacular at any occasion, at least not in the races I did watch.

        Since Marrusia reportedly couldn’t pay for the transportation to Spa I think this is a last minute cash grab rather than Rossi being good.

        They should ban pay driving imho. You cant stop Santander wamting to sponsor what ever team Alonso drives for but Alonso is attractive to Santander because hes good. You can prevent a Chilton situation for example though where daddy just pays

        1. So how exactly would you define a pay driver then?

          All of the drivers on the grid have personal sponsors to a greater or lesser degree, so at which point do you define a sponsor from wanting to develop an association with a driver to the point where the driver is a “pay driver”? Grosjean would be a good example of that phenomenon, since Total reportedly put pressure on Lotus to retain Grosjean in the past because he was beneficial to their publicity work – whilst Total do not explicitly back Grosjean, was Grosjean an effective pay driver in that instance because sponsors were influencing the decisions of the team?

          You mock Chilton (even though, a touch ironically, his father actually has no direct involvement with the team and there is no evidence that he has paid any money to Marussia), but what about, for example, Adrian Sutil? Do you criticise him as a pay driver given his backing from Medion?
          By your logic, you should also have had open disdain for Kobayashi self financing his seat at Caterham and mocked him as a pay driver. And do you think Lotterer is a pay driver given that, according to the German press, Lotterer’s position was brokered by a personal sponsor (Hype energy drinks)?

          Equally, whilst Alonso may now be in a position where sponsors will follow him, that does not mean that sponsor influence did not play a part at the beginning of his career. When climbing up the ranks, one thing that helped bring him to the attention of Minardi was Telefonica, who were personal sponsors of Alonso in Formula 3000 and also sponsored Minardi in the late 1990’s. Even though Telefonica left Minardi before he joined, did their favourable press to Minardi before they left skew the selection process in his favour?

          Alternatively, what about the scenario where a team pays another team to recruit and train a favoured driver?
          Whilst Bianchi has shown promise, at the same time his seat at Marussia was reportedly also influenced by Ferrari throwing their weight behind the deal and promising Marussia more favourable commercial terms if they hired Bianchi. Similarly, we saw Red Bull pay HRT to fire a driver mid season to create room for Ricciardo to drive there – again, whilst he has shown potential, his initial career also owed a lot to financial backing from Red Bull.

          1. This is a reasonable, well-thought out response, and one with which I fully agree.

    2. It will be also a good measure for Rossi, as Jules is regarded as one of the promising talents for the years to come.

      1. Yeah, since I can’t get GP2 where I live (California), I’d like to see how Rossi stacks up against a talented driver like Jules

        1. GP2 races are shown on NBCSN. I think its on Saturday though

    3. I can’t help but think the same thing – with Marussia reportedly having financial woes (including non payment to Ferrari for their engines), Haas bails them out in exchange for Rossi to take Max’s seat this weekend. This is a perfect way for Haas-Ferrari to test out a potential driver for what will essentially be Ferrari’s Jr. team in 2016. Everyone wins all around, well, except for poor Max.

      Oh, and as a fellow American I’m excited too!

    4. Bianchi, Rossi… add Marciello and that sounds pretty much like a Ferrari B-team! Put the name Haas on it and away we go!

  15. Once again, Marussia showing Caterham how it’s done! When bringing in a new driver for a race, which of your two current drivers do you swap out? The more talented one or the less talented one? Simples.

    1. @celicadion23

      The two issues are actually very different.

      Caterham wanted to introduce Lotterer, and consequently replaced Kobayashi.
      Marussia wanted to replace Chilton, and consequently introduced Rossi.

    2. @celicadion23 While I agree about Kobayashi being much better than Ericsson (everybody does) but their reason is that Kobayashi does’t give good technical feedback, whereas Lotterer does.

      1. How much useful technical feedback will Lotterer actually be able to provide when driving a completely new and alien car that he will be driving for the first time on Friday, will be working with a technical team he has not even met before and will be out of the team by Sunday if, as is rumoured, his sponsors have only been able to negotiate a deal just for the Belgian GP?

        Realistically, I can’t see Lotterer being able to provide any more useful feedback than Kobayashi could – Lotterer will be going into this weekend with no prior knowledge of the car, either from on track testing or simulator work, and no realistic benchmark against which he can assess the performance of the CT-05. Why would he do any better than Kobayashi in those circumstances?

  16. This just made my day… I remember attending the Nurburgring ’07 race, and wish I was in Belgium right now. Eyes watering with joy, and hoping he can finish ahead of the Caterhams…

  17. Didn’t see this one coming, but Rossi must be pretty pleased with his departure from Caterham right now.


  19. Marussia did the smart thing and replaced their rubbish driver (Chilton). Caterham did the exact opposite (because they are idiots) and replaced their good driver (Kobayashi). I’m starting to gain a lot of respect for Marussia and also starting to lose a lot of respect for Caterham. At least Chilton is out but I really wished that Ericsson would be out too which would mean that two rubbish drivers would be out of the Belgian GP before it even started and then that would leave the Sauber pair and Maldonado. But Maldonado would probably take himself and at least one other driver out of the GP because he crashed here in 2013 and 2012 and most likely it would be Gutierrez considering their crashes at Bahrain and Silverstone. That would mean two more rubbish drivers would be out and that would leave Sutil, who would probably just spin off for no reason. I’ve just made the best case scenario here! Anyways, good luck to Rossi and Lotterer.

    1. That is a very promising scenario. You could add in rain, too.

  20. Maybe Haas has anything to do with this? He has an interest in Ferrari engines as well so…

  21. Oh no! Looks like the F1 comedy blogs are going to have to find someone else to make fun of this weekend.

    1. Inferring that Maldonado hasn’t always been target #1?

      1. Good point, but I was thinking of the pictures of Lewis Hamilton’s car on fire with a bunch of comments saying “still faster than Chilton”. That just never gets old…

  22. No offense to either driver coming in at Marussia or Caterham, but how long is before these teams are on Ebay posting an auction – “Want to drive in F1 next week? – minimum bid $200,000 and an FIA super license”….

  23. and for those of you that wonder, his FOM-graphic abbreviation is RSI (because ROS is used for rosberg obviously).

    1. I thought it might be ARO like the Schumacher brothers used their first names first letter.

      Anyway I think this might be the strongest lineup Marussia/Virgin/Manor ever had because Glock never had a really strong teammate. But maybe I overrate Rossi or even both of them.

      1. i quite like the RSI solution. the FOM abbreviations are something i always pay attention to for some reason.

        pic had a very good rookie season and was probably glocks strongest team mate. i don’t rate rossi too highly, he never really imressed me all that much in gp2. a lot like ericsson actually. a few podiums here and there but nothing that really shows us his full capability. but i’m sure rossi will be driving for haas in 2016. closest contender would be conor daly i guess, and he’s really not done much in gp2 yet (allthough it’s most likely his car that’s terrible)

    2. Hopefully they’ll get rid of the stupid arm-folding videos of each driver now they don’t have all of them. (Max is still doing it in the pic above)

  24. Soooooo happy for him! Congrats kid!

  25. Would be awesome to see how the “newbies” fare!

  26. !!!!!

    Holy crap, can’t tell you how excited I am to see an American driver actually race! I only started following F1 closely in 2009 so this is huge for me. Crossing my fingers he performs well.

  27. Both these driver changes are weird.

  28. What fun Spa is turning out to be! Musical chairs in the race seats.

  29. This will be very interesting weekend. :)

  30. Finally someone realizes how rubbish Chilton is.

  31. While I do feel for Max Chilton for all the issues unfolding around him and Marussia, I am happy that Marussia have followed the same path as Caterham. Unlike Caterham, Alexander Rossi is actually a driver who is signed to the team. And not only that, Rossi had far too many blown opportunities to race full time in F1 by Caterham and now I fear Robin Frijns is on that same path. All I can say to Robin is if Caterham take Lotterer, who’s had no relation or link to Caterham until now, then I have faded hopes for your future at that team.

    And also, Marussia didn’t just put Rossi in the car. They put Rossi in the car because Chilton is currently under money problems that has affected his race seat and if Max didn’t have that problem, I don’t think Marussia would’ve put Rossi in his seat. So, in all reality and in my opinion, Rossi made the perfect choice to move out of Caterham and into Marussia.

    If Rossi stayed at Caterham for 3 years and never got a race seat then left to join Marussia and earned a race seat about a month later, then I think we know how Marussia are more sensible then Caterham.

  32. Seriously, I don’t know what so good about Rossi. If I compare his racing statistic to his team mate at the current GP2 season, he is not better than any of his team mates. And he is now down below at #20 on the standings. Any insight?

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