Chilton’s Marussia contractual issues disappear overnight

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Back in business: Max Chilton had originally been dropped for the Belgian GP.

Max Chilton has dropped a hint Marussia majority shareholder Andrey Cheglakov played a part in his U-turn reinstatement following words with his management team.

Chilton was axed by the Banbury-based marque on Thursday following what the team described as “contractual issues”.

It was understood the numerous investors behind Chilton had failed to fulfil their financial obligations in recent weeks forcing Marussia to act, replacing the Briton with reserve Alexander Rossi starting with this weekend’s Belgian GP.

Via a statement, Chilton claimed he had “volunteered to step out of his race seat…to allow the team to attract much-needed funds by selling his seat”.

Overnight, though, Marussia stated “a change of circumstance” resulted in Chilton replacing Rossi after the first practice session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. It is believed Russian billionaire venture capitalist Cheglakov was influential in the decision that saw Chilton return to the cockpit.

Asked whether he had spoken to Cheglakov within the last 48 hours, Chilton said: “People in my management team have, yes.”

Chilton, however, refused to explain the reasons why he was out one day, back in the next. Instead he only further muddied the waters.

Pressed to clarify the situation, Chilton said: “What goes on in an F1 team every day, there are lots of people and lots of things are said, and lots of things progress.

“Lots has gone on. I can’t express what, but it’s not what everyone seems to think has gone on.”

Asked whether it was to do with money, Chilton said: “I’m not going to comment on anything because the moment I comment on that people will start writing it.”

Chilton’s words appeared at odds with the statement that he gave up his seat for the financial good of the team.

“I have to stick by what I’ve already said. What has happened has happened and we have to move on,” added Chilton.

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Sport360 staff 21:14 22/08/2014
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Rookie: Max Verstappen will race in F1 for Toro-Rosso from the 2015 season.

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve on Friday criticised the Red Bull-Toro Rosso recruitment of 16-year-old Dutch racer Max Verstappen and said that it proved F1's superlicence system is flawed.

The 1997 champion said that it proves the current licence system is "meaningless" and suggested it is "the worst thing ever for Formula One."

Canadian Villeneuve said: "Getting a superlicense should be meaningful, not just doing three hundred kilometres and it being fine.

"There is something that is flawed there. Basically, it's like getting all the presents without deserving anything.

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In an interview with Autosport.com, he added: "It is the wrong way round. Caesar and Napoleon were good from the beginning but it takes time before you become an emperor.

"You build it. It does not mean that you are more talented, it doesn't mean that you are faster but you build, it's something you learn and you become a man also.

"He is still a boy so it is very risky. You don't take a 16-year-old, who hasn't even been to university, in the best hospital as a doctor even if he is very good and very intelligent.

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Hamilton tops Rosberg in second Belgian GP practice

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On top: Hamilton was lightning quick around the Spa circuit during second practice.

Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in Friday's twice red-flagged second free practice session ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

The 29-year-old Briton, who was second behind Rosberg in the morning session, clocked a best lap of one minute and 49.189 to finish clear at the top of the times on a typically incident-filled day at the old Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Belgian Ardennes.

Rosberg was six-tenths of a second slower than Hamilton to finish second ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button of McLaren on a rare dry day at the track.

Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Williams ahead of Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Australian Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull, Danish rookie Jan Magnussen in the second McLaren and Nico Hulkenberg for Ford India.

The session began under a heavy black cloud and produced two major 'red flag' accidents, but nobody without anyone being injured.

The first came when Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado lost control of his Lotus car in the approach to Pouhon and hit the barriers heavily. He was quickly in communication with the team via radio to say he was unhurt, but his car was seriously damaged and he was out for the rest of the session.

The second red flag came when Mexican Esteban Gutierrez spun off at Blanchimont in his Sauber.

"Can you get back to the garage?" the team asked him. "It is the gear box…Something break completely," he replied.

In the intervening periods of on-track action, Alonso clocked 1:51.693 to go top before Hamilton, who was second behind Rosberg in the morning practice session, regained the ascendancy by taking half a second out of the Spaniard's best time.

Ricciardo, Red Bull's sole representative in second practice as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel waited for an engine change, also ran off the circuit without causing any damage.

With 40 minutes to go, all the leading drivers switched to softer tyres and Hamilton stayed on top while Frenchman Romain Grosjean reported that his Lotus was "all over the place" and difficult to drive.

Rosberg then swept to the top of the time-screens with a lap in 1:49.793, but was swiftly replaced as Hamilton responded in 1:49.189, the way it stayed until the flag.

Earlier, Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff gave an insight into how the team had rebuilt rapport after their discord in Budapest. He said the situation, after Hamilton had ignored team requests to allow Rosberg to pass him, had "needed a little bit of mediating, management, caressing, hard words…"

He added: "You cannot expect it to run super-smoothly. You don't expect when your team-mate has one more stop to do that you make his life difficult. On the other hand you cannot ruin one's race by expecting him to lose a couple of hundred metres.

"It was a matter of the words used not the principle. We probably shouldn't have said to Nico that Lewis was going to let him through, we should have said he won't make your life difficult."

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