Fearless Max Chilton primed to become latest Briton on Formula One circuit
Friday 02 November 2012
Max Chilton drives a Formula One car at an official Grand Prix meeting today as he moves into the frame to become the next Briton to race on the circuit full-time.
The 21-year-old from Reigate will handle the Marussia normally driven by Frenchman Charles Pic, as confirmation of the Banbury team's growing interest in him.
Chilton, who recently became the team's official reserve driver, is clearly excited, but there's also a calmness that is missing in most young men his age. He's focused on doing the best possible job, and very aware of the subtext: a possible chance to race for Marussia alongside the German Timo Glock in 2013.
"We've been chasing the Abu Dhabi [drive]," he admits, "but it wasn't until Wednesday morning in India recently that the team told me they were going to announce it. Until it happened, I wouldn't let myself believe it was 100 per cent sure.
"It's really good that it's going to happen there, because I don't need to worry about learning the track as well. I've done a stupid number of laps there in several cars, and did around 900 kms of running there in last year's Young Driver test in the Force India. And I've driven the Marussia car in the Silverstone Young Driver test back in July, so I know that too."
This season Chilton emerged as a genuine talent, taking two pole positions in the GP2 support category which is one rung below Formula One on the racing ladder, and winning two races for the Carlin Marussia team.
As Formula One debuts go then, the circumstances could scarcely be better. "It's always going to be tricky having only an hour and a half, when for much of that there'll be lots of traffic and the track will be at its greenest," he acknowledges. "I know the team would really rather that I keep the car on the track, than try to push too hard and risk going off. So would I. My personal aim is to do a solid job and come out of it feeling that I did it well. I need to know that I did the best that I could. I was only 20 when I first tested an F1 car, and my confidence grew from there. I'm not arrogant but I believe in myself when I'm behind the wheel."
Marc Hynes is Marussia's head of driver development, but was also the man who beat Jenson Button to the 1999 British Formula Three Championship. He knows how to drive, isn't given to hyperbole, and rates Chilton very highly.
"I think he's underrated. To be able to put a car on pole position in GP2 and to win two feature races, against that quality of opposition, shows that he's ready for F1," he insists.
"He's got the speed and he can win, all he needs is the experience. He did a great job at the Silverstone test, he's very intelligent and has very high quality feedback. He's likable and deals with pressure well. That's conducive to stepping up to F1."
And Chilton likes the ring of being the next Briton to race in Formula One.
"For sure that's a good thing. And I don't feel pressure from it. I'd rather it was me than any other Brit! Actually, it feels good. I want to be in F1 for the long run."
Max and Tom Chilton
Max competes in GP2. Older brother Tom races in the World Touring Car Championship.
Paul and Stefan Di Resta
Force India's Paul has been in F1 since 2010. Younger brother Stefan raced in this year's Mini Cooper Cup.
Lewis and Nic Hamilton
McLaren's Lewis is an enthusiastic supporter of younger half-brother Nic, who races in the Renault Clio Cup.
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