Well, at least the journalists are not complaining of having nothing to write about as we head into the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Yesterday evening, all talk centred around Andre Lotterer’s imminent Caterham debut and now, another driver has been given an opportunity to start his first race this weekend, with Alexander Rossi behind the wheel of the Marussia. However, this turn of events is even more surprising than those at Caterham, as Max Chilton has stepped aside “while contractual issues are resolved,” while his management declare that Max has voluntarily vacated his seat. Drama before the weekend has even begun!
Curiouser and Curiouser
To say that this is a strange one is certainly an understatement. While any driver change in the middle of a season is irregular, Andre Lotterer’s call up had been on the cards and was well-documented by the time that the news broke officially. However, this story has emerged without prior warning – a rarity in Formula 1. It was only 23 hours ago, (at the time of publication), that Max Chilton tweeted “Euro tunnel done, next stop Spa!” The accompanying picture hardly suggested that he was about to be dropped – Max was displaying a smile that even Daniel Ricciardo would be proud of. Secrets are not normally secrets for long in this sport and this suggests to me that this decision has not been made well in advance of this weekend.
A press release from Chilton’s management company stated; “Max has volunteered to step out of his race seat for this weekend’s race in Spa to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat. Marussia are currently in talks with several new investors and it is expected that the situation will be resolved before the next race in the F1 calendar in Monza.” This idea that Max has voluntarily stepped aside is not reflected in the team’s statement; “Alexander (Rossi) will race alongside Jules Bianchi, substituting for Max Chilton while contractual issues are resolved.”
Ultimately, very little detail has been released to the public in regards to why Max will not be racing this weekend. I expect much more to be revealed over the next three days. Regardless of the reasons behind the switch, it will be interesting to see how Alexander Rossi performs and in Andre Lotterer, he has somewhat of a yardstick to judge his performance by.