Latest News / Interview

The First Time - with Marussia's Max Chilton

10 Jul 2014

Back in Canada in June, Max Chilton experienced a historic first - he retired from a Grand Prix for the first time in his then 26-race career. But how well can the 23-year-old Briton remember some of the other firsts in his life, like the first time he tasted champagne or the first meal he cooked? Read on to find out…

Who was your first hero when you were a child?

Max Chilton: It was Michael Schumacher. For years it was just ‘the red car’. When I was really young I just remembered the red car winning and when you’re young all you want to do is win. So I always supported that car and then I got to the age where I knew who he was. I watched him my whole life from when I was a kid to the point where I ran on a Friday in Abu Dhabi when he was still racing in F1. So he’s my modern day idol.

What was the first Grand Prix you can remember watching?

MC: Well, I didn’t see one at a track until 2008 when I did a one-off race in World Series by Renault on the Monaco weekend, and even then I didn’t really see the race because I couldn’t get tickets! The first race I remember watching on TV was Michael Schumacher winning at Monza for Ferrari in 2000. The fans flooded the track and the podium was hanging over them, and I remember thinking ‘wow, that’s really special’.

How old were you when you first decided you wanted to be an F1 driver?

MC: When I was young I wasn’t thinking I was ever going to race - I just loved watching it. Then my brother (touring car racer Tom Chilton) started racing and I started go-karting. I think at the point you start racing anything, that’s when you think ‘I want to be a Formula One driver’. It is possible. I had things go my way, had good races, and now I’m here. So, to answer your question, it was probably when I started racing when I was about 8 or 9.

When was your first big accident in a race car?

MC: It depends what you mean by ‘big accident’ because touch wood I haven’t had a big, big one. I’ve had ones that have looked dramatic and I think the first one of those was when I was doing pre-season testing in an F3 car when I was 15 - a whole year before I was allowed to race. I was driving at Snetterton and I remember I went into the Bomb Hole and it was slightly damp and I was on slicks and I just went straight on. It wasn’t even that big a crash but it was the shock of taking a wheel and the front wing off. My mechanics weren’t bothered, but I was a bit emotional about it!

What colour was your first crash helmet?

MC: Blue. My brother and I shared exactly the same design which we had someone design for us. We continued sharing the same design until about two or three years ago. You can still see the similarities between our designs though - we’ve always had the three stripes.

When did you win your first trophy and what did it look like?

MC: My first trophy was probably a plastic one that I got from my local karting centre in Crawley when I was about 6 or 7. I won my first proper karting trophy when I was about 9 and driving in Cadets. It was in the Kent championship and was made out of tin and plastic. I’ve still got all my old trophies.

What was the first road car you drove?

MC: The first car I learned to drive was a grasstrack Mini. It was bright yellow. My brother and I both had Minis. I was probably 8 when I started driving that. I remember I stalled once and then I pulled away and I was fine from then on. It was just an old-school stripped out Mini in a field. I think my one had either won or come third in the British grasstrack championship. We used to just mess around in them.

Where was the first house you lived in?

MC: Reigate (in Surrey). I’ve only ever lived in Reigate. The house was in the centre of town.

How nervous were you on your first day of school?

MC: I can’t remember my first day, but I know I was a nightmare for years in terms of not wanting to go to school. My mum would have to force me off her arm because I wouldn’t let go and the teacher would have to take me indoors! I would be fine when I was indoors. Actually, when I became aware of what school was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I miss it.

What was the first sport you played as a child?

MC: It has got to be football. My favourite sport at school was hockey - I had county trials.

What was the first meal you ever cooked?

MC: Does toast count? No? What about a microwave meal? In that case it would be a microwavable Bird’s Eye chicken supreme. I used to be the king of cooking those!

What was the first thing you did this morning?

MC: It was what everyone always says - I checked my phone. It’s shocking really. But the first thing I always think when I wake up is ‘how much longer have I got in bed?’

What was the first thing you did after getting your first F1 seat?

MC: The first thing I did after getting signed by an F1 team was winning the GP2 race in Singapore! I won the feature race straight after being announced as Marussia reserve. When it was announced that I had signed my first race contract I was at home. I think I went out for a pizza with my friends.

What was the first record you bought?

MC: I think it was Nickelback’s ‘Silver Side Up’ which is so unlike me. The first album I bought was Usher’s ‘Confessions’. It was a good album - he’s never done a better one.

When was your first romantic kiss?

MC: Romantically it has to be when you’re older, doesn’t it? It was probably with my girlfriend when we started going out five and a half years ago.

When was the first time you were asked to sign an autograph for a fan?

MC: It’s amazing but I think I did some in karting. I think people get you to sign things hoping that you’ll be someone one day!

When did you first taste champagne?

MC: The first time I tasted champagne I hated it - and I still do! In karting they give you rosewater, so it was probably in British Formula 3 in 2008 when I was on the podium at Oulton Park with Jaime Alguersuari and Oliver Turvey.

Which would you eat first - a piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate?

MC: A piece of chocolate any day! I tell you what’s good: my mum used to give me an apple and a Kitkat!

What was the first word you said as a baby?

MC: I’ve been told it was ‘nee-nah’ - you know, the noise a fire engine makes.

When was the first time you were called up against the stewards?

MC: Probably in go-karting in around 2002. Someone put a protest in but we won. I think I’d been accused of squeezing someone off the track, but I hadn’t.

How hold were you when you had your first shave?

MC: I can’t grow a proper beard but I still have to shave every day. I was probably 18 or 19 when I had my first shave, but I’ve never had a wet shave.