Despite the possibility of becoming the first rookie in Formula One history to finish every race in his debut season, Max Chilton’s chance of retaining his Marussia seat for another season is somewhat of a mystery. The team have already re-signed Jules Bianchi, following is impressive consistency and high level of performance this season and the delay in discovering Max Chilton’s future has initiated speculation. However, Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon says there is a “strong argument” to retain Max Chilton for next season, as the team seemingly want continuity of drivers in what is a transition year for the sport.
With the overhaul in regulations, teams will be heading into 2014 with a number of questions and issues to overcome. Embedding a new driver into the team may be considered to be an unnecessary venture, which could restrict progress. “It sounds simple to say a quick one but that’s what everybody wants – a quick driver,” Lowdon stated. “I think something special about next year are the new regulations for the power unit. That’s going to create really quite a few new challenges for everybody up and down the grid. I think there’s a very strong argument to say keeping the same line-up we currently have would be a good thing. That said, typically at this stage of the year, in previous years we wouldn’t have finalised our driver line-up and it’s the same this time. I think we’ll just have to evaluate where we stand, what’s the best solution for the team moving forward and then announce in due course. I have to say both drivers this year have done an exceptional job.”
British fans have been fearing the worst in regards to Chilton’s future for a while now. The Bit has been consistent, yet he has not displayed the calibre of performances which has seen Jules Bianchi ascend to stardom. However, it is crucial to note Bianchi’s far greater experience in Formula One, following his test driver role at Force India – While he is still a rookie, Jules quickly claimed the team leader role at Marussia and this was always to be expected. By finishing every race this season so far, Max has gained a wealth of experience – experience which a possible GP2 or GP3 graduate would be lacking.
Lowdon was full of plaudits for both Bianchi and Chilton, stating; “I think a lot of people have forgotten that we started this year with a rookie line-up and that’s quite unusual and I think both guys have done a very, very good job, sometimes under some difficult and challenging circumstances. So, we’ll see how we move into next year but I think there is a strong argument to say that trying to keep the same line-up would be a very positive thing for the team.”
A decision should be expected around the final race of the season. The Brazilian Grand Prix tends to be the deadline for Marussia to confirm the departures and arrivals, (despite Luiz Razia’s late conformation prior to this season). History suggests that Marussia will be inclined to drop their number two driver and if they keep Chilton for another season, it will mark the first time they have retained both drivers from one season to the next.