Max Chilton signs up for 2016 IndyCar season but still harbours future F1 goal

01 February 2016 02:53

Max Chilton says he still has unfinished business with Formula One after it was announced he will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing in the 2016 IndyCar season.

The 24-year-old Briton drove for Marussia for two seasons in F1 but was left without a drive for 2015 when the team re-branded as Manor after financial issues.

Chilton has since driven for Nissan in the Le Mans 24 Hours and enjoyed a fine introduction to American motorsport in last year's Indy Lights season.

But on Monday it was announced that Chilton would drive for Chip Ganassi Racing, the reigning IndyCar champions.

The seat will give Chilton a great opportunity to show his race-winning talent having had to settle as a Formula One also-ran but he told Press Association Sport he still may not be finished with the sport.

"Yes, a little," he said when asked if he had unfinished business in F1.

"Since the age of nine I worked hard to get there and it was frustrating I never got a fair chance of getting podiums, everyone on that grid is good enough to get podiums and race wins on their day and in the right car.

"They just don't have a fair chance - but this year for me it is exciting, a good weekend should mean you walk away with a good result.

"I still want to succeed in F1 but you have to be realistic and think are you going to build a career out of it?

"You can build a career in America. A lot of people in Europe need to find sponsors or take other money to get a drive, over here they want you to join, they already have sponsors to help you out and it is good over here.

"People are looking at IndyCar, more now, and it is ultra-competitive so you can see who are good drivers. If I can do well I'm still only 24 so I don't see why not (return to F1) - it is the pinnacle but it's extremely difficult to come out of F1 and get back in, it's not regularly done but never say never."

The challenge of racing at the front of the field is something Chilton is obviously looking forward to.

"It is difficult but in America you have more of a chance," he said.

"In F1 I did two years and in some races I drove as well as anyone else could have, but I finished 13th because I was limited by the cars.

"I'm really looking forward to it. I've had my critics but I know I have races, I have put a car on pole and won feature races in GP2, I believe in myself and know I can do it, it is rewarding to be handed a drive on merit.

"I'm looking forward to it because in the last three years I haven't had a car that can get a podium - this year I have no excuses.

"It is not that I didn't try at Marussia, I look at every bit of my performance, I was up against one of the up and coming drivers and Jules (Bianchi) was fantastic, I learned a lot from him.

"But you could be doing the best lap you've ever done and you get lapped by a Mercedes which is four seconds down the road by the end of the lap."

Chilton was Bianchi's team-mate at Marussia when the Frenchman crashed out of the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix and he died in hospital nine months later.

British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died just a month later from injuries he suffered in a race and Chilton will be the first Brit to compete in IndyCar since - but he insists he was never tempted to walk away from motorsport after the two high-profile deaths.

"I didn't know Justin well but that was not good timing," he said.

"I was thinking over the decision to go over to America when it happened but I spoke to enough people in the sport and know that the accident could happen anywhere. It could have happened to me at Silverstone in 2014 - the same thing happened to Justin and he was massively unlucky. Jules' was a freak accident.

"I would never walk away from motorsport, you have got the bug. I also have the talent and I enjoy it, I just want to give America a go and if this year isn't for me I don't have to continue, it is a one-year contract and I will take it from there. You are not on this planet long and you never know."

Source: PA