Max Chilton has taken a step closer to a Formula 1 race seat with Marussia after being named as reserve driver at the team until the end of the 2012 season.
The 21-year-old Briton has been racing in Marussia colours in GP2 this season for Carlin, claiming pole positions at Hungary and Monza and converting the first of those into a maiden victory in the feeder series. He lies fifth in the standings coming into the final weekend of the campaign in Singapore.
Chilton tested for Marussia at Silverstone in their Young Driver Test following the British Grand Prix, and from Japan until Brazil he will be present with the team and on standby should he be needed. He could also get Friday practice running.
“I’m delighted to be given this fantastic opportunity to be part of the Marussia F1 Team for the remainder of the 2012 season,” said Chilton. “My experience with the team at Silverstone for the Young Driver Test was a great taste of how F1 operates, and I’m so excited to be able to extend that into a proper working relationship as Reserve Driver at the remaining F1 events this year.
“I feel like my racing has really matured this season and to now be able to combine that with real insight into the engineering activities of an F1 team, and the level of preparation required of an F1 driver, really moves my career onto the next level. I’d like to thank the team once again for this opportunity.”
Team Principal John Booth added: “As part of our commitment to supporting the next generation of racing talent, we naturally keep a close eye on the feeder formulae, particularly those which race alongside us on the F1 calendar. We reinforced our support for GP2 as the key stepping stone this season by joining forces with Carlin to form the Marussia Carlin GP2 entry. Max Chilton’s impressive performances for the team this season have gone far from unnoticed and he seems to mature with each new round.
“We were all delighted to see him convert that into, first, his maiden pole position and then his inaugural victory in Hungary last month. An important part of the education of any young driver looking to progress to the highest level of motor sport is spending time working closely with the engineering community and other, more experienced drivers. This is an important element of our Young Driver Programme.
“In the role of our Reserve Driver for the rest of the 2012 season, Max will be exposed to the demands of competing in Formula 1 to the extent that he will be fully prepared to step into the MR01 should it be required. Max has already driven the car at our Young Driver Test, so this is an opportunity for him to build on his experience of working with the engineers as well as the other demands placed on our drivers, including marketing activity. We look forward to having him on board as part of the Marussia F1 Team.”
Chilton is the son of multi-millionaire Grahame Chilton of insurance giant Aon, and who’s Capsicum Motorsport group includes Carlin and Arena, who run the Team Aon World Touring Car outfit that Max’s brother Tom drives for.