Max Chilton dedicated his first pole position in Indy Lights today to his only teammate in Formula One: Jules Bianchi. Bianchi passed away last night after sustaining severe head injuries at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
The duo raced together in 2013 and 2014 for the Marussia F1 Team, which Chilton continued to race with until the team shuttered at the end of last season.
Not expecting Marussia to be reborn as Manor Marussia for 2015, Chilton hopped over to the World Endurance Championship to drive the Nissan LMP1 and drive an Indy Lights car for Carlin.
Chilton admitted to Motorsport.com that he doesn’t have a lot of oval experience:
It’s very different, you know, I’ve watched it quite a few times and it’s nothing like what the experience is like when you’re actually watching it on TV, or even standing here. When I look at the oval here, it looks so different from when I’m in the cockpit, so there’s a huge amount to learn and I wish a lot of drivers could experience it because there’s a lot more to it.
Grabbing pole position on your second oval start ever is no small feat. Chilton got loose coming around Turn 4 on his second qualifying lap, but ultimately held it together. Naturally, this seemed like a fitting accomplishment to dedicate to a friend Chilton respected very dearly.
Chilton told Motorsport.com:
[Bianchi] was a good friend. He was the most determined professional I’ve ever met ever since I knew him when we were karting teammates at the age of 11 or 12 and he was the same back then. He’d do anything to be quick and most of the time he was, and if I was having a good day where I was quicker, he would soon find a way to be quicker, so he was destined for great things.
According to MotorSportsTalk, Chilton ran a two-lap average of 162.294 mph to edge out his Carlin teammate for the pole.
Indy Lights races today at 6:20 p.m. EDT.
Update [7:06 p.m.]: Chilton just won the Indy Lights race for the weekend. Congratulations!
This win, too, was dedicated to his teammate. Bianchi told ESPN:
It wasn’t easy and I’m sure if Jules was out there he would have been on pole. I tried my best, but Jules was one of those drivers who was destined for big things.
I was his team-mate for two years, and I had to have an absolutely perfect day to beat him - more often than not, he’d beat me. I learned a lot from him, and even though he never raced on ovals I’m sure that I took a lot of what I learned from him out there today.
I dedicate this one to him.
It was an incredible win, and a great tribute from a class act.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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