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Alexander Rossi to replace Max Chilton at Spa
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  21 Aug 2014   |  3:55 pm GMT  |  122 comments

Former Caterham reserve driver Alexander Rossi will make his race debut for Marussia at Spa this weekend after the Banbury-based team announced that the Amercian racer will replace Max Chilton for this grand prix, with the Briton being sidelined due to “contractual issues”.

Team Principal John Booth said: “Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his Grand Prix debut at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Franchorchamps. “Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible,” he added. “But for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action.”

Rossi, who joined Marussia as reserve driver last month, added: “It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time and I cannot thank the Marussia F1 Team enough for the faith they are demonstrating in me.

“It’s a very big moment for me and there’s a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now,” he said. “It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend.”

A statement from Chilton’s camp added: “Max Chilton has volunteered to step out of his race seat for this weekend’s race in Spa, Belgium, to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat. Max will attend the race and be on hand to support the team in any way possible. Marussia are currently in talks with several new investors and it is expected the situation will be resolved before the next race in the F1 calendar in Monza.”

Rossi is the second driver to take over a race seat this weekend with Andre Lotterer set to replace Kamui Kobayashi at Caterham at Spa.

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1

Poor old Max, finally has a DNF and shortly afterwards gets kicked… 🙂

2

This is all quite worrying, irrespective of Chilton getting his drive back, because it serves to illustrate just how precarious the financial position of these teams are. Caterham, Marussia, Sauber; we’ve been hearing about it for months but we’re now, it seems, seeing the problems play out more visibly.

Having said all that, and despite agreeing it’s a hard blow on Kamui Kobayashi, I am actually really happy for Andre Lotterer! I remember him being a young Jaguar driver (even as part of their brief F3 junior team I think) and he has got a good racing pedigree. He’s one of those many drivers who slip through the F1 net but who I think can do a competent job in the sport, if not more. Yes, his biggest successes have come in Endurance Racing but three Le Mans titles is not to be scoffed at and he’s also been super-competitive in Japanese single-seater racing (very consistent in Formula Nippon/Super Formula – though only one title in 2011, under F1 rules I think this would have been increased to three, looking at wikipedia?). I wish him well for his debut F1 weekend.

3

I wouldn’t argue any of that, but I’d add that if Caterham are in the slightest bit interested in beating Marussia he should be replacing Ericsson, not Kobayashi.

4

They have just said on sky that max will be making the race, my word this is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sport

5

James – any chance you can ask Rossi about his choice of numbers, has he chosen it because 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

(If it is, I now have a new favourite drive!)

6

Brilliant.

Be interesting to see if he can get closer to Bianchi.

7

It is becoming obvious, all is NOT well at the end of the grid.

This kind of acrobatics with the drivers (at both Caterham and Marussia, also Sauber with Sirotkin) clearly indicate a desperate lack of money.

I also can’t help wandering what will become of the PDVSA sponsorship to Williams, given the troubles in Venezuela.

8

When you consider that Kobayashi put a Sauber on the front row in Spa in 2012 (granted, he was then hampered by a fault with the clutch during the start and got caught up in the subsequent 1st-corner incident), it boggles the mind that the excuse given for Lotterer taking his place is “experience”.

If experience matters, then why on earth is Marcus Ericsson still in the other car?

The new Caterham management should be more upfront like the Marussia and tell it like it is – Kobayashi lost his seat because Lotterer is bringing in money.

If Colin Kolles is trying to cement his reputation as a dodgy team principal / adviser / whatever, he’s on the right track by doing stuff like this, the sacking of Caterham staff and subsequent threats of SUING the ex-staff for complaining.

9
kenneth chapman

@ chris chong…….could you possibly provide a link to the ‘lotterer is bringing cash’ comment. i didn’t think he was getting the drive for zip but to date i haven’t seen any mention of lotterer actually paying for this drive?

10
kenneth chapman

interesting comment….hadn’t thought about that.

11

Could HaaS have paid Marussia to test an American driver?

12

So Marussia lineup will be Bianchi and Rossi: two quite common italian surnames for two non italian drivers.

But the funny side about italian here is the meaning of the surnames in italian, Red and White: the two main colours of Marussia livery

13

Well spotted 🙂

14

How much do these rides go for?

I’ve never seen anyone actually give a number…

15

I’m a bit disgusted by the disloyalty in the response from the Chilton camp. There’s always been huge insecurity from Chilton, as though he believes he’s there on merit and is heroically stepping aside for the good on the team. I don’t think his response will go down too well with the team, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Max’s time in F1 is now over.

16

“I’m a bit disgusted by the disloyalty in the response from the Chilton camp”

Perhaps that’s because there is no Chilton camp…at least not that I’m aware of (but if anyone is a member in good standing then you have my apologies and feel free to tell me I’m wrong).

17

As ecstatic as I am, didn’t think Rossi really had much sponsorship. Crazy question – did Bernie write the check? Maybe he’s realizing his anti-American bias is costing F1 major and desperately needed marketing opportunities.

18

Thing is though, its better for a driver to make his grand prix debut at the start of the year when he’s had a full winter’s testing behind him, but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers and all that………

It’s not Rossi’s fault though – the silly restrictions on testing have made it difficult for all young drivers.

19
kenneth chapman

á@gaz boy….the FIA should really re think this stupid testing ban. they should open it up for rookies at least. if a team decides to place a rookie for the following year then that should trigger a testing period for that driver only and for say three sessions in any one year. it would only apply to rookies so what could the FIA possibly object to. it could also be mandated that the car used must be identical to the current model being raced therefore eliminating possible upgrades being used for testing. that way it would totally driver related.

20

Can Ferrari put Kimi on gardening leave and give Bianchi a chance ? I just dont see how Bianchi can do any worse than Kimi at the moment.

21

Wow! What a track to have your first Grand Prix. A true racer’s track. Michael Schumacher debuted here as well. Good Luck!

22

Mind you, Michael did have some testing before the 1991 Belgian GP – at the Silverstone South Circuit I think. I’m not sure about Rossi, but with the limited testing in current grand prix racing, I doubt it’s much, certainly not enough to knock Bianchi into the weeds.

It does show the fallacy of restricting circuit running for (to quote Mott the Hoople), “all the young dudes.” A bit of preparation makes all the difference for the young guns. That’s why Verstappen Jnr will actually be in the pound seat next year because he will have a full winters testing programme behind him – for a young blade, there’s nothing like actual track time getting to grips (literally) with your grand prix steed.

23

I think Bianchi could be on the move, Ferrari or otherwise.

I look forward to see the benchmarking between the two of them; I expect Bianchi to show well, comparatively, based on overwhelmingly more experience.

However, the whole thing is so complicated, and getting just one thing wrong could blow Bianchi’s weekend, and a host of lucky episodes, at this race of (even for F1) unusually high degree of variable variables,, while of lowly probabililty, could hoist Rossi high.

I expect Lotterer to beat Ericson, right out of the box; he could be a gritty combatant, but I would have rather seen him against Kobayashi.

Still hoping to see Kobayashi at Honda next year.

24

I am not sure what is the achievement of teams like Marussia or Caterham apart from all the publicity and perpetuation of the pay driver phenomenon.

i have simple question, do you want to see the marussias and caterhams on F1 tracks just to add the numbers or should we rather see a third Ferrari or McLaren or a Mercedes show us real competition.

I;d much rather see these youngsters go to a decent team with their money as the third car, rather than this waste of money and talent by going to these backmarker teams which are generations behind.

25

As I see it, there is a snag with teams running third cars, or customer cars – there can only be one winner and there will always be someone who comes last. If you get rid of the likes of Marussia and Caterham (the tail enders) the current midfield teams would simply become the new tail enders, they would then struggle for sponsorship and eventually die. Then the new midfielders become the tail enders and so the cycle begins again……

26
kenneth chapman

@ C63…yes, you have some interesting points there but all the same i still think that three cars is an option that should be pursued. i matters not one whit whether or not bernie likes the idea.

three car teams would provide more competetive racing for certain. yes you are right, of course there can be only one winner and there will always be those who came last but the overall competetiveness would be on a far higher level given the ‘quality’ of the cars. from a financial prospect three car teams could actually lower the cost given economies of scale. we would then see drivers like maybe vergne/algersuari/buemi et al getting extended F1 careers.

there are a lot of advantages in going down this route and not too much downside.

27

@Random79

You are right abut the unequal way in which the prize money is distributed being a problem (allthough I believe its FOM and not the FIA who dish it out). But if we had 3 car teams I fear it would be worse, as the power would be then be concentrated in even fewer teams than now, which can never end well.There has been talk about the way in which the finances of F1 are managed would actually breach EU competition laws – sadly no one has been brave enough to take Bernie on and find out. Hey ho, one day.

28

@Kenneth Chapman

I take your point about sponsorship being easier to find for a team like Ferrari compared to ,say, Marussia and I agree, on paper, it looks like a good idea to have more cars who have a chance of winning [in the mix]. But there is still the problem of only one car being able to win and always having a loser.

If 3 car teams are allowed, that’s great if you are a front running team as it increases your chance of winning and the resultant exposure for your sponsors increases too. But, let’s say McLaren get things sorted next year with the new Honda PU and Mercedes are still dominant. Suddenly Red Bull can only really hope for a 7th place or maybe a 4th or a 5th if the front runners have a problem. Then Ferrari manage to get their ducks in a row [finally] so now Red Bull are scrabbling over 10th ,11th and 12th. How long before Dieter decides to pack up and market his eneregy drinks in a different manner – who wants to buy an energy drink from a team of losers? Overnight we lose 6 cars from the grid. How do we replace them as the entry level to join has gone up from circa £60million/season for a team like Marussia to £250million+ if you want to compete at the sharp end?

For me it just doesn’t work and my over riding reason for not liking the idea is that Bernie does! That and customer car teams where the same problems would arise.

Generally things Bernie likes are good for Bernie and tend to be a lot less good for anyone else 🙁

29

@Kenneth Chapman

You do realize that it wasn’t all that long ago that it wasn’t uncommon for the only cars to finish on the lead lap were those who ended up on the podium? And sometimes not even all of them.

Just as an example it was only 15 years ago, 2000, that in the couple of results I checked (Australia, and GB) only the points scorers were on the lead lap, and points only went to 6th then.

30

Yep, that occurred to me too.

There’s always going to be winners and losers and of course the winners should be entitled to more prize money, but I think if the FIA distributed the cash a little more evenly across the field it might help mitigate the problem a bit.

I know I’m dreaming and it would be nice if the FIA could some day come to the same conclusion, but in the meantime crazy allocations and private deals continue to screw up the field.

31
kenneth chapman

@ C63….have you considered the fact that with three car teams there would be far more competitive drives on the table and it would certainly close the mid field up even further. the teams would/could attract more sponsors simply because of the names involved, both team and driver. i should imagine that it would be easier to get $$$ for a third ferrari than it would for a marussia.

the plain fact is that very few people even know what marussia is/was/will be. all these bottom feeders contribute nothing to a sunday afternoon. they attract almost nil TV exposure and they are constantly being lapped thereby creating a nuisance for all the others who are actually racing not just filling up the grid slots. these back marker teams are anachronistic and need to be eliminated. as a sweetener maybe there could be some agreement that with three car teams at least one car could be mandated to have a promising rookie at the wheel thereby offering real incentives for future stars to emerge.

32

Do you think adding third Mercedes, Ferrari or McLaren would add real competition right now?

All we’d end up with is a probable Mercedes 1-2-3 on the podium (boring) with Ferrari and McLaren struggling to catch Red Bull for the scraps.

I can’t overstate how much I am over Caterham – I’d honestly rather have seen HRT stay than have the shambles that Caterham has ended up as – but for my money seeing Bianchi get the two points for Marussia was one of the little highlights of the year.

Just because they are small doesn’t mean they should be knocked – while certain other teams are falling apart they are slowly but surely getting it together.

33

Bianchi is an outstanding prospect, and if Luca Di Monty had any common sense he would promote him for 2015.

But this is Luca Di Monty we’re talking about……………….like Napoleon or Nero before that, he’s quite happy to see his empire crumble before his eyes while Luca plays his fiddle……..

Do agree about Bianchi’s performance at Monaco earlier this year – so far, probably the outstanding performance of F1 2014.

34

James, any word on if there is interest in Kamui from other teams? The only spot I see him filling would be a vacant FI spot if Hulkenburg moved up.

35

Reading between the lines it sounds like the cashflow from the Chilton camp wasn’t up to the promissed amounts.

Oh and btw – NOW would be the time for an update on the Bianchi column. 🙂

36

I’m loathe to use the cliche musical chairs, but………………………..

Anyway, best of luck, but up against Bianchi, who will blossom into a Ferrari driver within a year or two (yes, it will happen by 2016 – if I’m wrong then why are the Scuderia farming him out?) it’s a tough ask. Especially with limited testing/running.

37

You’re not wrong…or I should really say I’ll be pretty damn surprised if it turns out you are.

Anyway, F1 musical chairs is one of the highlights of this time of year…at least for us – I imagine it might be a little more stressful if you’re a driver 🙂

38

They were both fine last year, so they should be okay this year also.

In 2013 Grosjean managed to turn his reputation around 180°, and aside from the poor performance of the Lotus this year (or perhaps because of it) nothing’s changed.

39

PS When I said Maldonado is saving himself for a “big” performance, I forgot that the Lotus is so unreliable/slow at the moment it will probably grenade itself before the “red mist” descends.

Probably for the best.

What’s that cliche, God works in mysterious ways?

By the way, what chance the Romain empire still has flashbacks/nightmares about Spa 2012? Or Fernando come to think of it.

40

Wouldn’t it be so amusing if Luca Di Monty told Kimi he was “resting” him for Monza and Singapore for Bianchi, eh?

41

Will be interesting to see how Rossi vs Lotterer will go.

42

I’ll stick my neck out and say that Rossi will beat Lotterer hands down.

After all, it’s not like they’re picking names out of a hat 🙂

43

Except Lotterer is probably a better driver, though lack of F1 experience will hurt him.

44

How much was Chilton paying Marussia for his drive?

45

Not enough apparently 😉

46

Which if my maths is right will buy you a packet of chips and maybe a haircut.

47

Perhaps Max said that his sponsorship was about 10 million Euros, when its actually 10 million Vietnamese Dong.

48

Wow, Rossi really must have some backing then – as Chilton brought a big conglomerate worth of backing to get his seat. It’s going to be interesting to see how Bianchi reacts – he’s lost a few quali sessions to Chilton on merit this year, unlike previous years, and if he’s expecting to get Kimi’s seat in the next couple of years he better put Rossi in his place quick.

49

Perhaps the money from Max’s backers has dried up.

50

If I’m to read between the lines here, I don’t think it is so much that Rossi has backing as there is issues with Chilton’s backing. Rossi won’t be a long term solution for Marussia, I believe we will see them looking for a more viable financial option for that seat if things are not resolved with Chilton.

Quite the opportunity for Rossi though.

51

And Quantum…remember those guys? 😉

52

What car number will Rossi have this weekend, James?

53

Four!!! (as in watch your head Max 😉 )

54

What about No.2 – as you’re in the, er, faecal matter Max?

55

I’m betting on 69.

He has famous MotoGP name, may as well take the famous American’s MotoGP number.

56

Bye bye Max.

Shame he was doung a good job of following everyone around.

Another Brit bites the dust for a paid driver !

57

“Contractual issues.”

As euphemisms go, that’s pretty bland.

If SurAlun Sugar was running Marussia, it would be more like “Chilton, you’re fired!”

PS If Lewis car breaks down again this weekend, then I think some of the Mercedes personnel may also get their marching orders!

58

RE Pkara: Perhaps SurAlan would be a good task master for Mercedes?

“What?? Exploding brake discs? Leaking fuel tanks? You’re fired!”

Well, he would force everyone in that team to do a proper job!

59

Thats a fact Gazboy Lewis does not need any dodgy mechanics in his side of the garage. Its asif they are hired from a pool of Mercedes doughnuts.

Yes also re Mr Sugar aka the Bob Hoskins of the business world 😀 ” Max Chilton Leave it !! Leave that car alone & shut it…the garage door behind you !!” 😀

60

Teams with no money to race in f1………….

61

If you insist, but just for the sake of optimisation it will be much quicker to compile a list of teams that do have the money to compete in F1:

Mercedes

Ferrari

Red Bull (including TR)

…maybe Williams too.

Job done 🙂

62
kenneth chapman

@ grant….your comment re three car teams is what i have been promoting for quite a long time. what is the point of keeping the rats and mice on a drip feed [if that really].? mobile chicanes that in no way contribute to the actual racing and will only ever swallow vast sums of cash for little or no return.

three car teams is the way to go. then we would see a closing of the gaps and more top drivers would be attracted as a result. it would be a win win situation. let’s face it, the bottom of the barrel will always be the bottom of the barrel.

63

I disagree a bit, at the end of the day no sportcis made of all “real madrids”. In all team sports the guys on top are cos they have most cash. The mid field guys are just as valid look at torro rosso kvyat and now verstappen appear to be future talent, however in their current teams have no chance of a win maybe even podium, these teams are the proving ground. I do also think however if your at the back of the grid stugglung to pay bills let alone finish races whats the point, F1 might do better to lose the last 2/3 teams and let each team field 3 cars instead

64

yes, better give them 3 cars….no need to see other teams struggling, coming and going and getting pay drivers to survive till next race

65

The irony is, as Macca and Ferrari have shown this year, lots of UK £sterling/Euros/US Dollars/AUS Dollars/South African Rand/Japanese Yen/Russian Rubles/Vietnamese Dong/whatever currency the teams actually use cannot buy consistent race wins.

You could argue Ferrari and McLaren is an exercise in wasting sponsors money! Harsh…………..

66

Good point Robert, but I actually didn’t consider the Martini deal (although I have no doubt it’s significant).

I was thinking more of the private deal they have with Bernie which gives them a bit of a safety net for a few years yet.

67

You’ve nailed it exactly (with the McLaren add).

The number of teams that actually can afford to compete and win points is 5. The rest are just in a free-fall of losing money, and hopefully generating some marketing value for their parent company (Force India springs to mind).

There has always been a divide between rich and poor teams in F1…but the gap never seemed so large before.

N.B. – And Williams only really made your list because of the Martini sponsorship deal…without that, I suspect their finances would be a lot shakier.

68

Oh…and McLaren (I kind of missed them in the mid-field there)

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