By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Years in IndyCar: 1
Laps led: 2
2016-17 Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
A driver that will undoubtedly be looking for an improvement in the upcoming Verizon IndyCar Series season is Max Chilton.
A veteran of 35 Formula 1 starts, Chilton ended his maiden season in IndyCar a disappointing 19th in the standings, the lowest of both the Chip Ganassi Racing squad and of the full-time competitors in the series. He also finished last in the rookie of the year standings, while Alexander Rossi took Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
He somewhat found his footing on the short ovals, finishing seventh at Phoenix and paced the team when he qualified fourth at Iowa and was on pace for a top 10 until a late spin dropped him to 19th.
Aside from a top 10 at Watkins Glen International, the rest of his season was not much to write home about.
Spending the season under the wing of four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, the 25-year-old Brit came into the season with the mindset of having to learn the American circuits and the IndyCar package. He never seemed to underestimate that challenge but struggled throughout the year especially on street courses where he crashed out of both Detroit rounds and had a best finish of 14th at Long Beach.
His trial of a season is not too unexpected for a rookie in today’s environment with ultra-competitive nature of the series and testing being so limited.
In order for Chilton to improve, he just needs seat time to refine his craft. He has an optimistic attitude, is eager to improve, willing to listen and is a good teammate, which are the foundations for a successful career.
Heading into his sophomore season, continuity is a common theme as he has the same staff backing him.
The unknown challenge ahead of him is having to learn the Honda aero kit after just becoming familiar with the Chevrolet kit in 2016. If there is any team that can handle a transition it is Chip Ganassi Racing, which has some of the finest engineers in the paddock.
Chilton is in a prime situation to improve on his rookie season and breakout for some standout results in 2017.