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Rookie diary - with Marussia’s Max Chilton 05 Nov 2013

Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Preparations, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 31 October 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sebastian Vettel’s record-breaking performances may have grabbed the headlines this season, but Marussia rookie Max Chilton has quietly set a record of his own by finishing the first 17 races of his Formula One career. In the latest of our series charting the personal and professional progress of this year’s newcomers, the 22-year-old Briton reflects on his development over the second half of the season…

“We’re very near the end of my rookie season and it has gone extremely quickly! When I think back to my first ever Grand Prix in Australia at the start of the year it doesn’t seem that long ago, but then when I pick certain points in the middle of the season it does kind of feel a long time back.

“We’ve just been through a very busy period in the calendar, but I’m not feeling exhausted. My pace has been a lot better since the August break - I am in a very good rhythm at the moment. I’m also confident that I can keep that going for the last two races - or even longer - although I think after Brazil I’ll be ready for the roast turkey at Christmas!

“I did GP2 for two years prior to F1 and we had three long haul races: Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. So I was used to a good amount of travel before this season, but when you’re away for two weeks and then back home for one week, then away again for two weeks and so on and so forth - that rhythm has been quite challenging, especially since Singapore.

“Eight circuits have been completely new to me this year: Australia, China, Canada, Japan, Korea, India, USA and Brazil - so it’s been quite a learning curve for me. It doesn’t make it easy when you have to give up your car in some practice sessions - as I have for Rodolfo Gonzalez - especially as all you want is to get mileage under your belt. But if it is at a circuit I know and have already lapped plenty of times, it doesn’t really make much difference - in fact some of the races where Rodolfo was in my car during free practice were some of my strongest qualifying performances. I have to let him have another go in my car in Brazil and that is a tricky situation as I don’t know the Interlagos track. So it will definitely be harder for me there.

“In terms of new tracks, Suzuka was tricky - that’s probably why everybody calls it a ‘driver circuit’. The first sector there is really challenging - the hardest sector for me so far to get right - but it ended up being my strongest qualifying which left me with a pretty ‘comfy’ feeling inside. Qualifying in Japan has definitely been one of my personal highlights from a driving perspective. The race in Singapore and the race in India were the others - but you never know, maybe the best is yet to come in Austin or Sao Paolo!

“The low point? Probably Silverstone. I really wanted to shine there but I botched qualifying. The race itself was not too bad - so it was not terribly awful - but I wanted to give my home crowd a better treat.

“The aim for the rest of the season is to make sure that I continue to finish every race - preferably with the Caterhams behind us - and to keep building my pace, which is getting better and better. I may have only outqualifed my team mate Jules (Bianchi) once, but I have outraced him at a few races now - especially since the August break. I have proved that I can do it, in fact I have done it three times since the mid-season break so I am on a good run at the moment. So in that way you can definitely say that mileage matters.

"I came into Formula One and was ready, but it definitely takes time to really get it. Since the break I’ve felt a lot more comfortable, and also the car has been more balanced so I’ve been able to show more of my potential. And even in India when I got it wrong in qualifying, I managed to then produce what to this point has been my best race. So it is a matter of being able to turn things around in an extremely competitive environment.

“Next year it’s most likely that I will stay with Marussia - but of course I have to get the deal done first. The team has good potential, but it’s crucial that we stay ahead of Caterham in the constructors’ championship as the price money we’d get can make up a big percentage of our yearly budget. If we have that we can put it towards a better car for next year. That would really help! It would mean that we have the chance to start 2014 really strong.

“Of course, there’s a lot of focus on drivers’ weights for 2014. I’ve got quite a sweet tooth so yes I have to remind myself during the day not to grab too much candy, but in some ways I am privileged as although I’m quite tall, I’m also quite light. Having said that, for next year I probably will try to lose one or two kilos. Ouch!”

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