Marussia have this morning reinstated Max Chilton to his race seat after yesterday handing a Belgian Grand Prix drive to American reserve Alexander Rossi.
The Banbury team issued a statement yesterday saying that Rossi would drive in Belgium due to “contractual issues” with Chilton. The British driver then issued a statement saying that he was voluntarily stepping down from his race seat to aid the team in its quest to attract “much needed funds”.
However, Marussia this morning applied to the race stewards in Belgium to reverse the decision, and following approval Chilton is back in his race seat. Rossi will, however, take part in FP1 for the team before handing over to the Briton.
The background situation is not particularly clear at present. There are some American investors considering coming into the team, but not surprisingly they are waiting to see what the team’s finishing position will be in the championship. If they finish 9th, where they are at present thanks to the two points scored in Monaco, then they will earn around £45 million for this season, far more than for P10 or P11.
The Chilton stand-off was down to the Russian owners of the team playing hardball with Chilton’s backers and the situation was resolved in order for the 22 year old to take the wheel for the rest of the weekend. Clearly things are fairly close to the edge financially, but it’s a good little team that would benefit from investment and stability.
Commenting on the confusion Marussia team president Graeme Lowdon said: “These things happen, it’s the drivers’ job to be flexible. Both Max and Alex are professional drivers and will take this in their stride. it’s just a reflection of how this industry works sometimes.
“I can’t go into too much detail about the individual reasons,” he added. “At the end of the day we’re running a Formula One team and there are a large number of commercial agreements that are interlinked and sometimes for contractual reasons it’s not appropriate for a driver to be in the car and we took that action.
“Equally things change,” Lowdon concluded. “There was a change of circumstances and with the rules of F1 that change was granted. Alex is our reserve drive and he is there to help the team and to be there and ready when things like this happen. In the short time with us he has done a fantastic job and is a tremendous guy and we are very happy to have him on board.”