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Rookie diary - Marussia’s Max Chilton 05 Apr 2013

Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 1 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 23 March 2013 Marc Hynes (GBR) Marussia Driver Coach and Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 (L to R): Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team and Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 21 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013

Marussia’s 2013 machine, the Cosworth-powered MR02, is proving to be a cut above its predecessor and much of the credit for that must go to the team’s British rookie, Max Chilton, who shouldered the majority of the car’s pre-season testing mileage. In the latest of our series charting the personal and professional progress of this year’s newcomers, the 21-year-old reflects on a whirlwind start to the 2013 season and how his life has changed since becoming a full-time Formula One driver…

“You definitely become a lot busier when you become a Formula One driver because not only have you got more races, but you’ve always got to be at the top of your game. You spend every moment you can either training, on the simulator or preparing yourself for the next race - everything is up a level.

“In GP2 last year I had 12 race meetings, this year I have 19. It does change your lifestyle and you have to cut things out and start doing more training than you did previously. In the lower categories you are very busy at race weekends but then you have just an occasional visit to the factory and the odd simulator session. In Formula One that changes: you have a lot more things to fit in between races, be it PR, TV, training or whatever - you don’t really have many free days.

“You also do a lot of travelling in F1 but that’s absolutely fine - I’m used to that from GP2. When you come to the end of the year it’s probably the overall amount of travel that you’ve done throughout the year that hits people.

“Physically, in some ways the races are easier in F1 than in GP2, especially strength-wise in the upper body as you have the power steering. Obviously the duration of races is longer in F1 so you have to work on your endurance a bit, but the higher number pitstops help to break up the race a bit and make it seem to go much faster.

“The back-to-back races in Australia and Malaysia just flew by. It has been nice to have a bit of a break before the next back-to-back races to work on what I needed to work on.

“I went down to Cornwall over Easter. I love it down there - it’s not too far away so you don’t lose too much time travelling. As a driver you spend so much time abroad, so when you can it’s nice to holiday in your own country. Even on holiday you never go more than a half day without thinking about F1. You can take your mind off it and focus on other things, but a day never goes by without you preparing mentally and eating the right things.

“My family and friends have been very good. I’ve always grown up with the same group of friends so they’re kind of used to what I do after 12 years of racing. They always say ‘well done, I watched your last race’ but then that’s it and we’re back to just being normal friends and talking about normal boring stuff. It’s nice when you’re with friends to just take a few minutes away from racing and be normal.

“From a driving point of view, I’ve definitely got things that I want to work on, but my main aim for the first couple of races was to bring the car home and try to beat the Caterhams, which (in Australia) we did. I had issues in both Australia and Malaysia that we couldn’t help, but you don’t learn as much on a perfect weekend as you do on one that’s not perfect. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from the first two races and now I can go to the next two having experienced a lot.

“Spending the last six races of 2012 with the team definitely helped. I got to be a fly on the wall and to see what the drivers were expected to do, how much time it took up, what things they needed to focus on and what things they didn’t.

“Going into testing this year I was completely at home in the team - I knew everyone’s name, and at the first race in Australia it didn’t feel like anything I hadn’t done before. I feel completely at home in the team and they’re comfortable with me around - it’s a good environment to build on, especially as we have a good car this year.

“Obviously Jules (Bianchi, Chilton’s Marussia team mate) joined the team quite late on, so I got lots of running in the car in testing which to me was a bonus. But it wasn’t a shock to me when Jules joined as my team mate - I’ve raced against him all my life. We karted against each other and raced in Formula 3 and GP2. I know him fairly well and he’s a good team mate to have as he’s got some good experience in Formula One car and that’s good for the team.

“Aside from your team mate, you don’t spend a lot of time with the other drivers to be honest - you only really see them at the drivers’ parade and the drivers’ briefing. A lot of them I’ve come up through the ranks with and know pretty well.

“It’s still quite surreal to stand next to the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso on the drivers’ parade but a lot of the drivers are pretty welcoming and I haven’t felt out of place. I’m sure in a few races it’ll feel totally normal.

“I’m already looking forward to my home race at Silverstone later in the year - the British fans are the best fans in the world. Monaco is always a great one and I’m looking forward to that too - it’s so fast through those streets and I’ve never driven an F1 car there before. That’ll be exciting, as will the Belgian Grand Prix - I love the speed and the flow of Spa.

“Not many people get the chance to become an F1 driver so I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it. You need to work hard and focus on every area but I want to do this for a long time so I’ve got to get the results and enjoy it at the same time - there’s no point doing a job that you don’t enjoy. At the moment I’m enjoying it and I want it to continue.”

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