Max Chilton will join the illustrious ranks of ex-Formula One drivers who've said, "screw you guys, I'm racing Le Mans." Per AUTOSPORT, Chilton just scored a full-time drive in the completely nuts Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1-class World Endurance Championship racer along with Alex Buncombe.
Max Chilton is most famous for being Marussia's driver for 2013 and 2014, or for perhaps being the brother of touring car ace Tom Chilton. Either way, the Chiltons typically bring a boatload of money thanks to daddy Grahame Chilton.
With such an unique design for the car itself, finding a good driver who probably brings a bit of funding is a nice little pick-up for Nissan.
Chilton's previous record wasn't as bad as his "pay driver" label would have you think, complete with a 4th place finish in GP2 back in 2012. He's not exactly the Taki Inoue of our day. Are there better F1 rejects out there? Sure.
That being said, I do wonder what Chilton can do in a good, competitive car. Chilton wasn't great in the backmarker Marussia, with teammate Jules Bianchi (not Chilton) scoring the team's only points. The Team Formerly Known As Marussia has moved on without Chilton, naming Will Stevens as their first driver. Still, you can't ignore those couple GP2 wins from a series where young racers are beyond thirsty for that sweet, sweet podium.
Everyone's hoping this Nissan will be a good, competitive car at the moment. Its front-wheel-drive-biased layout is just the kind of radical technical shake-up we've been longing for in the LMP1 class.
Chilton wasn't afraid to throw a little shade on F1 on the way out.
"My aim has always been to race at the highest level and the technology that has gone into the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO is as impressive as a Formula 1 car," he told AUTOSPORT. "I'm honored to have been asked to join a manufacturer as prestigious as Nissan in a championship that is growing year on year."
(You know, as opposed to a series that's struggling to keep teams on the grid.)
Chilton will split his full-season LMP1 duties with a drive in the Carlin Indy Lights team, where father Grahame is chairman.
Nissan also announced some bad news for those of us hoping for a surprise Katsumasa Chiyo LMP1 pick: longtime Nissan driver Alex Buncombe will take that final seat on the LMP1 squad.
Buncombe joins the Nissan LMP1 team on the Le Mans-only third car, sharing driver duties with Tsugio Matsuda and Lucas Ordonez.
"I was shocked when I got the call and I haven't been able to wipe the grin off my face ever since," Buncombe told AUTOSPORT.
Buncombe hasn't only driven GT3 and GT4 cars for Nissan, but he's driven their V8 Supercar as well. That's right: an ex-V8 Supercar driver in an LMP1. (He only drove four races over there, but it still counts!)
Furthermore, he makes sense given the GT Academy driver in the car. Buncombe has been working with GT Academy grads to help them develop their skills.
There could be a seat to fill in the near future, however: AUTOSPORT confirmed that Michael Krumm will only contest the first three races before concentrating on Super GT in Japan.
Welcome to the craziest party in motorsports, Buncombe and Chilton. Party hats are past that tree and to the right.
Photo credits: Getty Images