Congratulations Max Chilton: A prediction four years ago finally comes true

Huge congratulations to Max Chilton today, who was confirmed as F1’s fourth British driver to take a place on the grid next year as he signed a deal to race for Marussia.

I wrote this below in November 2008, I’m just glad I was right about something in Formula:



What is a young age in Formula 1? Lewis Hamilton became the youngest man to win a Driver’s Championship this term but there may be a fellow Brit to challenge that title.

Max Chilton became the youngest driver to race in the British Formula 3 Championship in 2007 when he raced at Donnington Park on his 16th Birthday. This was the beginning of his valuable experience to try to pursue his route to the top.

Now only a modest 17-years old, he has added another years worth of experience. The 2007 season was his first racing a single-seater and to be in racing in Formula 3 at his age is quite remarkable. Whilst competing for Arena Motorsport, Chilton showed great maturity, as he was able to finish most races, adding to his learning of the sport.

His pace and ability was quickly scouted and was swiftly signed up for the well-known Hitech Racing team, who initially won the 2007 Championship. The 2006 Karting Champions Cup runner-up fills the seat of Estonian Marko Asmer, who won F3 in 2007. He has been signed by the BMW Sauber F1  team as test and reserve driver to continue his developing career.

He had a somewhat indifferent 2008 campaign but at his age, you can barely argue. Still adjusting to the handling of the car, he knows that his was just another learning curve season for him and he expect from himself to be challenging next year.  In the T-Car Championship in 2006, he managed an impressive 14 podiums out of 20 races, with seven wins, two seconds, and five thirds. He was only denied the Driver’s title by controversial circumstances, as he lost out by three points. Running parallels with Hamilton.

He also achieved a memorable victory in the European Kart Race in Portugal, racing away from an experienced field to win comfortably. These series showed great indication that he was ready for the step up.

Chilton is still relatively unknown in the upper echelons of motorsport and despite his modest good looks and appealing name, he remains firmly determined to reach his  inevitable goal to become a Formula 1 driver.

He is under no illusion that getting into one of those 22 seats will be difficult. Some who rose up the ranks with Hamilton in junior Karting ranks have not achieved such great success. Wesley Graves and Gary Paffett both were with the McLaren’s Young Driver Programme before Graves faded away through the lack of financial support and Paffett making a name for himself in the German sports car series DTM.

It is a harsh and tragic truth that the majority of drivers will end up disappointed. Formula 1 is the pinnacle point of motorsport and the competition for those seats will always be severely competitive. They are the finest drivers going head to head with the most technologically tuned four wheeled vehicles.

Chilton is certainly heading towards the right direction. Yet being able to legally consume alcohol, he may be light years ahead of his time. Scouts will be searching these feeder series for the next best thing and if Chilton continues his development he will be snapped up and follow the Hamilton’s example to success.

A successful 2009 series will lead him to GP2 before heading into the glitz and glamour that is known as Formula 1. Watch out for this name.

Sports Development – A Change of Perspective

GUEST POST: To add more context, and highlight the changes of the sports industry as a whole, Sport Researcher Stuart Owen has kindly offered his opinion on the current trends of sports development and how that has be impeded by the media and technology. This is the first and quite a personal one, so visit back for Stuart’s expert look into the sport development industry and the changing mindset. Enjoy.

Stuart Owen: A vision into sports development

Stuart Owen: A vision into sports development

Sometimes it can get boring reading constant news stories, press releases, and articles about the importance of physical activity and trying to get more of us participating in sport. At times it can be easy to lose perspective on why we should be doing it.

As someone who has loved competing in various sports and is keen to get others to do the same, I often find myself questioning the value of sport and why I want to get other individuals more active.  This has led me to believe that before I can put enthusiasm behind why others should participate, I need to first question what got me interested and passionate about trying to maintain a physically active lifestyle.

In a quest to understand my underlying urge to better myself and compete in a sports environment at a recreational level I have to take myself back to my childhood. Obviously, before I go any further, it is my clear understanding that biomechanics and genetics play a huge role in determining people’s ability and innate competitive drive. I have no doubt that I have a competitive edge within me which has driven me to prove myself against others and ultimately attempt to come out on top.

Sport, in this sense, has provided me with the perfect proving ground. An in-depth discussion about the value of genetics and sport is best left to a Sports Scientist, but in my opinion, it is necessary to always respect the significance genetics play. Looking beyond this though, I had a realisation about what sport really offered me as a child – respect and admiration from others.

I wouldn’t say that I was ever the most confident individual at school; I would be the quiet one who would just get their head down and get on with their work, dare I say it, I guess it was classed as a ‘geek’. This was fantastic in that I academically achieved everything that I wanted to at school, but when it came to being respected by my fellow peers, well that was more difficult. It soon became clear that regardless of what I did I would always have the labels of ‘geek’ or ‘goody-goody’ hanging over my head. That is where sport came in.

I genuinely still remember being fearful of joining the school football club because of the individuals who took part in it; nonetheless, I built up the courage to go along. Once I was out on that pitch I was in my comfort zone, able to prove what I was capable of. This in turn allowed me to gain a little respect from my peers. I’m not saying I lost all my labels and that suddenly I was strutting around school being known as the next Beckham, but now I had the label of ‘geek who is also good at sport’ above my head. Fantastic. Sport empowered me as a child and by simply doing something I enjoyed I also gained more confidence and respect as an individual.

This is exactly where Sports Development policies are going wrong at the moment.

It is so easy to look around and see various initiatives informing us on how we can get involved in sport, where we need to go for this, and the general benefits it will have on our health and wellbeing. Nonetheless, it is lacking that personable element.

We are almost in a state of saturation where we have heard the facts and stats about obesity, that we are now overlooking them because we are bored of hearing about them. We need to re-think how we can engage with individuals, of which a large majority will be children. I believe that we need to move away from focusing, although still value the importance of, the health benefits of sport, and look more at the character building and empowerment aspect that physical activity can offer.

Now I’m not saying that this perspective will work for every individual, but then I’m not a believer that one size fits all. To get more people participating you need to come up with several different initiatives/techniques and if just 1 out of 10 of those appeals to an individual and makes them connect with the idea of what sport can offer them, then that’s just great. After all that is the main perspective of Sport Development-to engage individuals to participate in sport.

Now, I’m not going to list ideas of what initiatives can be created to help individuals understand the empowerment element of sport, but I sure intend on doing this as my career hopefully advances within the Sports Development industry.

One thing I am sure about is that awareness is the key, and in this modern day, social media is the best and most effective way of engaging with young people. Let us make people aware of what sport can do for them instead of just bombarding them with information on what they should be doing. ( are a prime example of an organisation that acts as a platform to communicate the good that sport can do; it goes much further than simply listing the health benefits. On a daily basis I read, via their twitter feed, the good that sport is doing in teaching children about AIDS prevention in Africa, just as one example. This is just one such illustration of the good and empowerment that Sports Development can offer. It’s time to look beyond purely the health benefits.

As a final note, I don’t want people thinking that I only believe people can be empowered through sport; by no means do I believe this. Sport is just one form of enablement, a form that I found helped me, but people may find that enablement through art, music, drama etc. Putting my sport mind to one side, it is of greater importance to me that individuals are able to empower and find themselves through any form of activity, but for now my mission is to help those who wish to achieve that through sport.

Stuart Owen studied Sports Development and Coach Education at the University of Bath, and is currently working as a Sports Researcher at the Leisure Database Company.