Max Chilton took his first podium finish the GP2 Series this weekend, at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Chilton’s hard fought third place podium was also the first for the Marussia Carlin GP2 team.
20 year-old Briton Chilton put in a flawless performance in the first race of the season with a strong drive to third place. Having started from third on the gird he made a good start but was boxed in off the line behind the slow starting pole man Davide Valsecchi and initially dropped to fifth.
As the race began to unfold, Chilton held onto fifth, despite pressure from behind and was soon putting pressure on the fourth place man Stefano Coletti. By lap nine Chilton was in a close pack of cars, right up behind Coletti, while defending from James Calado and Felipe Nasr. The young Brit finally got some free air on lap ten when Coletti pulled into the pits for his mandatory stop, allowing Chilton to close in on Fabio Leimer. After just one lap, Chilton was close enough to attempt an overtaking move on Leimer at the final corner, with the Racing Engineering driver driving into the pits at the final moment.
With clear track ahead of him, Chilton was flying, keeping at bay the Lotus ART of Calado. The pair both pitted the next time round, making it a battle between the pit crews as to who would emerge first. A perfect stop by the Carlin crew put Chilton back out not only ahead of Calado, but also Leimer, and into the battle for what would become third position. With the pit stops completed, Chilton was third but had Leimer right behind him however the Brit managed to hold him off and, despite the prolonged pressure, was able clinch his first GP2 podium position.
Speaking of his podium Max said, “I had a good start but I got held back by Valsecchi and when I had to go around him I got passed by a couple of cars. Our pace was pretty good; I caught Coletti and Leimer when their tyres started to drop off around lap 7 and then they pitted which gave me some space. It’s a relief to finish a race with incident to be honest I feel now like I can do this again and build up a consistent start to the season.”
Race two on Sunday provided just as much excitement throughout the field, after a strong showing in the feature race Chilton lined up sixth on the grid for the first reverse race of the season.
At the start Chilton took the inside line at the first corner but found himself swamped as several cars took to the outside, and had dropped to 10th by the end of the first lap. He was quick to fight back however and became a constant presence in the mirrors of Davide Valsecchi in the fight for eighth. This fight continued for several laps while Valsecchi closed in on Luiz Razia in seventh position. With the wheel to wheel action unfolding in front of him Chilton seized the momentum and took full advantage of their preoccupation to close in on them. As Valsecchi ran wide Chilton breezed past and was soon putting pressure on Razia.
Up ahead more battles were unfolding as Razia closed in on Coletti. Again, Chilton was ready to take full advantage however ran wide which allowed Nathanael Berthon through which pushed Chilton down to ninth. The Brit quickly re-passed Berthon within a couple of laps and with just three laps remaining of the race passed Coletti for seventh.
Reflecting on the second race of the weekend Max said. “It was a very exciting race, again our pace was good. The car was brilliant and I raced as hard as I could. With some clear air I could have shown how fast the car really was, but the racing was great fun. I’m really looking forward to Bahrain!”Click here for the Officia Max Chilton web site - designed and built by Racecar