F1 Winter Break
Chilton takes Belgium race seat back from Rossi as Lowdon says ‘drivers will take this in their stride’
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  22 Aug 2014   |  9:59 am GMT  |  59 comments

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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 09.53.41

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.”







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What a mess. . Poor Rossi , it's not fair o mess him around like this. Very unprofessional from Marussia to do this in my view.

Rob in Victoria bc

I wonder how long until F1 starts to call itself 'sports-entertainment' like WWE wrestling.


I guess they realized this stunt ain't worth it. Most will ask..."that Italian MotoGP guy is in F1?"

They have time to get him into the seat before USGP. Best he drive an FP first.


So the cheque cleared, the Chiltons and Marrusia are probably using different banks, so it takes a few days.


My daddy has a bigger bank account 🙂


The impression is that it has become a race of who can wire money faster...


Chilton throws on his rich boy sunglasses, stomps back to his hotel, gets on the phone to Daddy and throws a tantrum. Chilton's Dad proceeds to wire some more money into the Marussia bank account accompanied by a litigious threat. Low and behold, Chilton is back in the car for the Belgian GP.

This assessment of the situation may very well be way off the mark. However, until it is thoroughly clarified, it is the perception I will hold towards this ridiculous turn of events.

Rossi deserves better.


Unfair comments. Chilton is a decent driver doing a good job in a second rate car. Chilton bashing is a cheap form of amusement for the uninformed. Just because there may be more talented drivers out there does not mean that he does not deserve his seat.




Finally, someone else in support of Max. I was beginning to think I was the only one


Sorry, no. Chilton has been an anonymous midpacker for his whole driving career and is in Formula One purely because of his financial backing.


If there are more talented drivers (which there are thousands) then he doesn't deserve his drive. His only qualification is his backers wallets. He shouldn't be in F1; it is a joke.


He doesn't deserve the drive at all. He is there because he had money. There are loads if better drivers. Also he is as boring as dish water. Even [mod} Maldonado is better.


Chilton isn't sponsored directly by his Dad anymore - it's a network of sponsors (no doubt organised by his Dad) and all it takes is one of the companies to withhold funds (or struggle one day) and the mess gets critical.

It's a shame for Rossi but he has a reserve driver contract - they all know what that means - you take the scraps that are offered and can expect a few kicks in the teeth along the way.


Yep, sure sounds like it. Maybe Chilton thought he was doing so well that the money wasn't required any longer from his side? Nope Max, it's still all about the Benjamin's!!!


Teetering on the edge. What crap. I want to watch F1 not this corporate crap. I can watch that in the stock market. F1 needs to get it's shit together fast or other platforms are going to make it irrelevant. Get rid of the old men and get into the 21st century. BTW i'm 58


This 'corporate crap' went on far more often back in the 90s than it does today. It's unusual for drivers to be swapped around much in a season, whereas back then some cars were pretty much on sale on a race-by-race basis to the highest bidder. I'm not sure really why a couple of drivers squabbling over back-of-the-grid car really impacts on the overall quality of F1.


Exactly - we just hear a lot more about it these days due to immediacy of information afforded by today's connected world.


Drivers have all always needed backing from somewhere even if it was only their Mum and Dad in their young karting days, that is how they finance their racing activities and live. The difference now is that many of these "pay drivers" never had much talent and are just buying a ride because they like the glamour. We all know that Michael Schumacher was totally dedicated to his racing and nothing else in the world mattered but he still had to raise money to finance it, the difference is that his backers offered money because they could see he was something special.


@Brent - just look at any relevant F1 season summary on Wikipedia. The best example will be 1994, look at:

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Formula_One_season#Drivers_and_constructors

I believe 1994 was the season with the highest number of different drivers participating. Look especially at the Lotus, Larrousse, Jordan and Simtek driver lists.


Even Schuey got in because he had money from Merc and Jordan was desperate for it. The last few races were changing drivers all the time. Same with Simtek, Lotus and Larouse in 1994, and others.


@brent Mazzacane, tuero, takagi, rosset, diniz, just to name a few...


Pedro Diniz for one.


who were all these drivers buying their seats in the 90's?


This is all just normal financial on goings in a mega buck business. Whats really sad is that the powers that be, dont recognise the blatantly obvious facts that the entire bottom half of the grid are in dire straits. These same dudes seemingly have attitudes that smack of the adage - if you dont like the heat, get out of the kitchen. Why are they not transparently engaging these teams to try and put in place measures to fix this. But why should they care. The TV and Commercial rights for each race were paid into their respective bank accounts back last year already - their personal takings are safe too.............


What a mess! The drivers are being professional but Marussia certainly aren't. "it's the drivers' jobs to be flexible" I'm sure it's in contracts that Rossi could replace Chilton for a weekend, but make a whole u-turn?

Silly season is in full swing


Lowdown says drivers will take this in their stride.? Given a surprise chance to make his F1 debut at arguably the best circuit in the World then thrown out after only FP1? I bet Rossi won't take it in his stride!


By ‘stride’ I think he meant ‘walking quickly out of garage’.



Well done Sir, comment of the Month that!


Doesn't make any sense to me why you would want to put your test driver in a race seat, especially for a track as challenging as Spa. Surely its a no brainer to keep the driver you have had driving the car all season, if you want any chance of success. I could understand making a change early in the season, but the experience is with Chilton.


I see your point, but Rossi was very quick in FP1, he could have done well in my opinion.



What an absolute joke F1 has become.



Such a mess...... Pure politics....


Can only assume that this sorry state of affairs is an indication of the dire financial straits of the team, it would be a real shame to lose the diversity that the smaller f1 teams bring but with no desire by anyone so it seems, to change things I really can't see how they can survive.

A slightly off but related topic....if formula e takes off over the next few years, given they seem keener to engage fans, embrace social media, free to view tv etc will some of the smaller f1 teams jump ship? As there seems very little incentive for them to remain in F1


Good question - and it might not be just the smaller teams that could think about jumping.

I suppose we'll find out soon enough 🙂


@Brent: There were a lot of 'pay drivers' during the 1990s. Names that spring to mind are: Taki Inoue, Pedro Diniz, Paulo Barilla, Jean Denis Deletraz, Philippe Adams, Paul Belmondo, Olivier Beretta, Giovanni Lavaggi ("Johnny Carwash"!), Ricardo Rosset and Hideki Noda. There were others too.

I always thought Diniz had some talent but, at the other end of the scale, there was Deletraz who was some 30 seconds off the pace over a lap...


Aha !! Someone else remembers the superstar Johnny C !! I thought that my posting of his name in the Max Verstappen thread three days back was likely to be the only reference to man for decades, but no.

And on the subject of talented Italian drivers, can anyone else recall the epic pairing of the Brambilla brothers ? We will not see their like again.....


Yes Diniz did have some good performances particularly in wet conditions . Belgium 1998 and Spain 1996 springs to mind.


I’m so confused – roll on UAV’s

(unmanned autonomous vehicles)


--- Tomorrow's Headline ---------

RICH C takes Marussia post from Lowdon, Appoints Himself No. 1 driver. Chilton, Rossi Out of Luck.


The headline the day after:



I'm immediately inclined to change my positive Bernie conspiracy theory into a negative one. He probably wrote a check to Marussia and told Max's dad (and/or private sponsors), "pay me back later."

And to think Spa is the site of perhaps the greatest accomplishment by an American in F1 - Dan Gurney driving his own car to victory in 1967. Always thought Bernie was motivated at least a wee bit by history as well as money but I guess not. His anti-Americanism when it comes to drivers knows no bounds.



Wouldn't her prefer an American to Max?


(Bow to your expertise, that is)


I now to your expertise James but you must admit Bernie has a notorious reputation in the States for disliking Yanks. Just really gutted about the whole (raw) deal.


James, rumours in the Italian press that Vettel has agreed to sign for McLaren.

Have you heard anything in the Spa paddock?


Hell Nick, I've agreed to sign for McLaren...it's just that they don't feel the same way 🙁




No. He's contracted to RBR for 2015 anyway.


Latest from FIA: all future seat auctions to be held in public.


Such hysteria. Formula 1 has ever been thus. Money talks!


I am so bored by this. It is like seeing Kolles back, first thing he did was mess with his drivers mud season. Never worked before, never will again.


If Chiltons relationship has gone south with Marussia & then Marussia had some coaxing by Bernie to have an American driver on show (as James posted in the Rossi story),

I assume in readiness for Austin & next years Haas team entry

Then surely this should have been dealt with in the mid summer break,

Its not necessarily good business idea to mud sling at the start of Spa practice day 1.

You can sugar coat it all you like it'll still taste sour for these drivers.

Bit like Torro Rosso showing JEVs car in the garage to Versteppen while JEVs sitting nearby. Thats rubbing his nose into the ground...before Quali & Race day.

Crazy times:-D all fun for the fans but a scene out of T.V. soap opera for the teams & drivers.


Situation in a nutshell:

Cheque bounces - " You're out Max" 🙁

Cheque clears - "Welcome back Max!" 😀


I often smile when I hear david coultard tell us we are watching the best drivers in the world during his BBC commentary. Drivers competing in F1 purely on merit is becoming a rarity. All the recent headlines point out what we have seen for years. The way to the top tier is by either bringing money to the team or having an ex driver as a relative. sadly finance and having the right family connections play a bigger part in determining our world champion than just talent. obviously we still have drivers who are at the top of their game, but when the field they are competing in is watered down by drivers who simply shouldn't be on the same track the driver championship surely has far less value.


Drivers competing in F1 on merit: Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Bottas, Hülkenberg, Button, Magnussen, Grosjean, Kvyat, Bianchi, Lotterer, Vergne.

Your point is what exactly? Of course there will always be some no-hopers at the back.


My point is that too many drivers seemingly manage to become an F1 driver because of the finance they bring to the team or because of family connections rather than merit, Max Verstappen being the latest.

You have named 15 who you believe are, even if we agreed on those 15 that's only 68% of the current field. In my mind that percentage is not high enough for what is supposedly the worlds top motor racing competition.


This is messy and makes Marussia look a bit poor.


You're right, but Marussia being a bit poor is how they got into this mess in the first place 😉

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