With precious few seats remaining in Formula One, you can understand why Kamui Kobayashi threw in the towel. As of today, you can officially cross Marussia’s spare seat off the list as a potential for would-be drivers like Kobayashi, Alguersuari, D’Ambrosio and many more. That’s because there’s a new Brit on the grid in the shape of Max Chilton.
As part of the Carlin team in GP2, Chilton got his first real taste of F1 by securing his super license in July while testing and then again during the first practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He’s a spry 21-years-old and placed 4th in the 2012 GP2 season. He said:
“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.”
It’s a move that fills the vacancy of the departing Charles Pic and given the relationship between Pic and teammate Timo Glock, this may be a welcome arrival. Team boss John Booth said the decision was examined and re-examined prior to the announcement:
“We are delighted to welcome Max to the role of Race Driver with the Marussia F1 Team for the 2013 season,” 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 pitwall 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.”
It’s nice to see another British driver on the grid and one presumes he brings significant sponsor cash with him for the honor but that’s the name of the game in F1 these days, especially at the back of the grid. Over the last few years, the Formula 1, grid has been dominated by Germans but the Brits are making a comeback, as Sky Sports F1 points out, with four of them being on the grid for 2013.