Max Chilton has been confirmed at Carlin for another year.
Let’s be brutally honest, is this really storyworthy? It was a done deal way before now, Carlin just hadn’t confirmed it officially. What was more uncertain was the fate of his teammate from last year, Charlie Kimball. His sponsorship money was running out and as such he will only run a limited schedule of an unspecified number of races. And I’m not sorry to see Kimball being reduced to part-time status this year, but I am sorry to see Chilton still on full-time status. Here’s why.
Let’s start with the American. Charlie Kimball came into the series in 2011, on the back of a 4th place finish in Indy Lights. He signed with one of the best teams in the world in Ganassi, but was generally unimpressive as he wound up 19th overall in that season and in 2012. Things improved in 2013 as he took his only victory at Mid-Ohio and got himself up to 9th in the standings.
Then, over the next two years, although his results got better, so did the standard of the other drivers and he was 14th and 12th, the only real highlight being a podium at the 500 in 2014.
His last couple of seasons for Chip yielded only a pole position at the crash-strewen Texas race in 2017. There were only two top fives, no podiums and no wins, despite his return to the top 10 overall in 2016. Finally, he was let go and joined Trevor Carlin last year, doing an okayish job with a top five at Toronto.
The figures don’t make for great reading. 104 races, 1 win, 6 podiums, 1 pole and a best finish of 9th in the championship. His figures before he got to IndyCar aren’t brilliant either. Yes, he finished 4th in Lights, but he didn’t win a race. Why is this guy still driving IndyCars? I’ll tell you. MONEY. Thanks to Novo Nordisk, he was able to occupy a seat he didn’t deserve at one of the best teams in the world. Now, he’s taking up half a seat at a promising new team, preventing a brilliant young driver from a full-time ride.
Same story for Chilton. He had a couple of years in F1 where his only accomplishment was finishing races. He came to the States and did a year of Indy Lights with Trevor and did actually manage to win a race.
Then he moved up to the big cars, again for Ganassi, but failed to shine with a best finish of 11th overall in 2017, largely thanks for a 4th at the 500 which paid double points. He rejoined Trevor last year and I didn’t actually realise he was on the grid half the time. He was invisible with nothing to show.
His figures are just as bad. 50 races, 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 poles. Oh dear. Why is this guy still driving IndyCars? I’ll tell you. MONEY… and NEPOTISM. You see, Chilton’s dad is bezzy mates with Trevor Carlin, and has practically bankrolled his son’s career. So it’s been relatively easy for Strolton to make his way.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. After all, loads of drivers bring money. They have to in order for teams to enter their car. Santino Ferrucci is a great example, but he’s shown flashes of speed already, even though he’s unproven. We’ve seen Lance Stroll practically be given a seat because his daddy owns the team. Again, this has happened in IndyCar. Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti both drive for their dads. The difference with Graham is he has talent, speed and is driver other teams would actively look at hiring based on his ability alone.
I don’t mind drivers paying for their rides or effectively running their own teams, but do it at a lower level boys. Don’t hog all the rides when drivers like Conor Daly, Gabby Chaves, Carlos Munoz, Matt Brabham, Kyle Kaiser, Pietro Fittipaldi, Sage Karam, Santiago Urrutia are all knocking on the door. Those guys are all fantastic little pedalers of a much higher calibre and potential than Chilton or Kimball; heck Daly, Chaves, Munoz and Karam have all proved they can cut it. Of course they have to bring some money to the table, but please Trevor Carlin, get these guys in your cars like Mike Harding and George Steinbrenner did. Please. After all, young talent is what you do best.