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Max Chilton has enjoyed a rather successful year, finishing as the highest placed Brit in the GP2 standings before joining Marussia as its reserve driver. GPUpdate.net speaks exclusively with the 21-year-old about the year gone by, how confident he is of securing a race seat and what we can expect from Marussia in 2013...
Firstly Max, how have things been going with the reserve role?
It’s been really good. I kind of started working with Marussia in Singapore, when my GP2 season finished. Then the first proper races I went to with them were Japan and Korea, which went really, really well. I started to learn a lot with all of the engineer meetings and it progressed from there. I went to India and didn’t know whether I was definitely going to be in the car in Abu Dhabi. I found in India that I was, so I got myself prepared for the following week which was a very important one.
From inside the cockpit, how was your FP1 outing?
I was very happy with it. I wanted to come out of it with the team and myself being happy, I wasn’t really worried about anything else. I did come out of it happy and the team was happy, so that bit all went well. I wasn’t far off Timo; I was within a second of him, but I was well up on my last lap on old tyres, around half a second up coming into the last sector and I caught a HRT. He held me up, so I didn’t actually get a time I was happy with in the end, but the team said the time I did was good enough.
You had obviously tested for the team before this outing, but how different was the experience of lapping in a field with six World Champions?
I wasn’t worried about driving the car, as I’d driven it before. I was kind of at home with that, but everything else was different with the drivers on-track and all of the guys watching so it was a little bit more intense. As soon as you put your helmet on the nerves disappear and you’ve just got to get on with the job in hand. We started off with some aero runs they wanted me to do, time flew by and I couldn’t stop smiling! Then they let me have a few good runs at the end which went really, really well.
Looking back at the season finale, it didn’t end perfectly for Marussia. It must have been heart-breaking for the team to lose tenth place in the championship...
It was quite hard for the team and myself to swallow. I’d been really backing them in the last races, wanting them to get that tenth place which they really deserved without KERS. It was a real shame to lose it and I think they had it right up until the last five or six laps, which was really devastating. But, the team has brushed it off and they’re already focusing on next year because the past is over now and they’ve got nothing else to focus on but the future. They’re all confident for next year with KERS and the car is looking very good, so they’ll hopefully be able to beat the Caterhams.
You mentioned Caterham; Charles Pic is joining them next season, leaving a space open at Marussia. How confident are you of taking that seat?
I was glad to see that Charles had gone to Caterham as that has opened up a space at Marussia, where I want to be. There are plenty of negotiations going on and I’ve just got to work over the next month or so to try and get that role. We’ve got other plans in place if a race seat doesn’t come off, so I may spend another year just developing my skills, but I really want to get that race seat. I think the team are enjoying my company and are happy with my speed so hopefully something will come off.
Just how big a step forward do you think Marussia can take in 2013?
I think the step they made this year was absolutely huge. Speaking to (Technical Consultant) Pat Symonds on Thursday morning, next year’s car sounds very, very good. With the addition of KERS as well, that’s just free time. There’s no loss of time by installing it, it’s just pure time they’re going to find with that.
KERS in itself would put us further up the grid and if we’re having the car they say we will then it’s going to be a very promising year. Pat seems to think we’ve found a lot. I think that combined with KERS and everyone’s drive from this year, just losing out on tenth in the last round, the team is looking very strong for next year.
|4 May||Gonzalez to stand in for Chilton in Spain|
|1 May||Seven F1 teams confirmed for Goodwood|
|30 Apr||Marussia 'close' to new engine deal|
|24 Apr||Video of the Day: Marussia MR02 time-lapse|
|18 Apr||González gets practice outing in Bahrain|
|15 Apr||'It's starting to come together' – Chilton|
|26 Mar||Video: Marussia drivers play Jenga|
|23 Mar||Chilton suffering with tyre degradation|
|18 Mar||Marussia debutants buoyed by performance|
|16 Mar||Chilton left to lament late yellow flags in Q1|
|25 May||Latest F1 photos: Saturday in Monaco|
|25 May||Alonso: Fighting for victory very unlikely|
|25 May||Wolff confirms engine talks with Williams|
|25 May||Alonso picks up €1,000 speeding fine|
|25 May||Di Resta 'left out to dry' in qualifying|
|More Max Chilton photos|