Chilton fumbles as F1's next pay-drivers line up

He didn't want to say the words, but Max Chilton insists a Marussia kerfuffle in Belgium should not be interpreted as a simple 'pay-driver' in distress.

The struggling team stood the Briton down ahead of Friday practice at Spa-Francorchamps, but then did a u-turn and reinstated him.

Marc Surer, a former driver and commentator for German television, giggled that Chilton and his sponsors must have "found a bank that was open on a Friday".

It was presumably that sort of interpretation that Chilton was trying to dismiss when speaking with reporters on Friday.

"What everyone seems to think has happened is not the case," he insisted.

When pressed for precisely what he meant, Chilton added: "I think I've gently persuaded or let you know what everyone thinks it is and that's all I can say."

According to Germany's Die Welt newspaper, though, the real reason for the Spa shenanigans was because a group of Chilton's investors were behind in payments.

It is a familiar story in formula one.

Also this weekend, Andre Lotterer displaced Caterham regular Kamui Kobayashi, and a major factor was the arrival of the Le Mans winner's sponsor Hype.

Now, the Spanish daily AS reports that Red Bull might try again to push rookie Carlos Sainz jr into Kobayashi's car, perhaps even for Monza next month.

"Nothing is finalised," a spokesman for the Spanish youngster is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo.

And Roberto Merhi, a Spanish DTM driver, is at Spa this weekend and also linked with a 2014 Caterham drive under the new regime headed by Colin Kolles.

"Merhi, 23, is a talented driver but he also has the necessary financial support thanks to Russian businessmen", the sports newspaper revealed.

The always-blunt Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 world champion, is highly critical of the ever-powerful 'pay driver'-model in F1.

"More and more, the teams remove the great image that formula one once had," the French-Canadian is quoted by Welt newspaper at Spa.

(GMM)

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