sport

Chilton to race for Marussia

Max Chilton will compete in this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix following a remarkable U-turn by his Marussia team.

Marussia announced on Thursday Chilton was to be dropped in favour of reserve Alexander Rossi due to what they described as "contractual issues".

It was understood the numerous investors behind Chilton had failed to fulfil their financial obligations in recent weeks, forcing Marussia to act.

A statement from Chilton's management company claimed the 23-year-old had "volunteered to step out of his race seat... to allow the team to attract much-needed funds by selling his seat".

Behind closed doors at Marussia, however, such comments were met with disbelief and scorn.

It left Rossi on course to become the first American for seven years to compete in a grand prix just weeks after being taken on as reserve after his release from Caterham.

Rossi spoke glowingly about his determination to reward the team for the faith shown in him, only for that chance to now be snatched away.

Chilton was seen looking on from the pit wall for the opening 90-minute practice session at Spa-Francorchamps.

But the Banbury-based marque have confirmed the 23-year-old will be back in the car for the second session and the remainder of the weekend.

Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon said: "This is a reflection of how the industry works sometimes. It was a change in circumstance.

"Alex is our reserve driver so is there to help the team when this sort of thing happens. The plan, as ever, is stability."

A statement from the race stewards read: "The stewards have received a request from Marussia F1 Team to change the nominated driver Alexander Rossi (car 42) back to their previously-nominated driver Max Chilton (car 4) for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.

"In accordance with article 19 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, the stewards grant permission for this driver change.

"In addition, Marussia F1 Team have requested that Alexander Rossi replace Max Chilton in FP1. In accordance with article 19.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations the stewards grant permission for this request."