sport

Teething problems for Chilton

Max Chilton was given an alarming wake-up call after enduring a sleepless night ahead of his debut for Marussia.

It was sadly a first day of testing that ended an hour earlier than planned for the 21-year-old Chilton, due to a rear suspension failure that pitched him into the gravel at high speed at Circuito de Jerez.

The MR02 was unveiled 45 minutes ahead of the start of F1's return to the track after a 71-day break since the Brazilian Grand Prix towards the end of November.

After spending the closing two months of last season as reserve, and in the wake of two prior run-outs in the Marussia as a young driver, Chilton has been given an opportunity to prove himself in F1, even though the going will be tough with a backmarker team.

What he was not expecting was the kind of incident that unfolded, but from which he emerged unscathed and itching to get back on track.

"Something gave way," said Chilton.

"I hadn't hit the brakes at the time. I was still flat out in seventh (gear). I recovered it once, but then I was out of control.

"The team are looking over the car to find a cure. We think we know what it was, and hopefully we'll be back on track tomorrow.

"It was one of those things because the testing was going well until that point as I was getting in some good laps and the car was performing well.

"But that's what early days of testing are for, to sort out problems, and now I'm looking forward to getting back out tomorrow and putting in some good testing."

Before that Chilton had enjoyed himself, revelling in the "incredible feeling" of being in F1 and on the same track as the likes of Jenson Button and Mark Webber.

"I couldn't really get to sleep last night with excitement," added Chilton.

"You can be as nervous or as excited as possible, but as soon as you put the helmet on, everything around you becomes a blur and you just focus on what you are doing.

"Heading out of the garage for the first time you feel not just your own excitement, but for the mechanics around you and the team back at home, that this is what they've all been working for over a long winter.

"It was a big moment, especially as everyone seems pretty confident with what we have here. The car certainly was an improvement on last year.

"Despite the problem, there's quite a detailed programme we need to follow to start to understand the car, so it's a slow and painstaking process.

"As we've started testing on time, we've room to keep building over the next few weeks, so that's pretty exciting as Australia (the first grand prix on March 17) will be here before we know it."

Providing Marussia can find a fix, Chilton will be back in the car on Wednesday as the team have yet to announce their second driver, with last year's GP2 Series runner-up Luiz Razia still favourite to land the seat.