Marussia F1 boss John Booth has admitted that the team is no closer to deciding whether or not to hire Max Chilton for the 2013 season, despite giving the Briton his maiden run in Friday free practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 21-year old impressed the team as he worked through a prescribed workload in the 90-minute session, but had to hand the car back to Charles Pic for FP2. The Frenchman is being linked to seats elsewhere for next season but, despite that, any vacancy may not automatically go to Chilton, who was named as the team's official reserve at Suzuka. Marussia has made no secret of the fact that its number two will need to bring a bag of cash to secure the seat and, while Chilton has been bankrolled as far as GP2 by his family, he has already insisted that they will not be paying for him to graduate to the top flight [see separate story
Despite the speculation about who may partner Timo Glock in 2013, Booth says that no decision has been taken and nothing could be decided until the final round of the year in Brazil, at the earliest.
"We are certainly nowhere near making that decision yet," he told Reuters
, "There are commercial implications on almost every driver decision outside the top four teams, [and] the negotiations are only just under way, so it may take a month yet. I hope Max will stay with us in one form or another, he's part of our family now, [but] we'll see how things progress over the next month."
Chilton also admitted that a single free practice session was not enough to stake a race place on.
"We obviously need to see what Charles is doing, if there is a spare seat," he pointed out, "I think I needed to impress the team and I think that I have done that today, but nothing's done [for 2013]. Hopefully, I can get in for next year but, if not, we will have to work on something over the winter."
To further muddy the waters, however, Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon has revealed that Pic isn't Chilton's only rival for the second seat next season.
"We're seriously talking to four or five drivers about next year, with Charles being one of them because he has done a good job," he told sportinglife.com
, "But there's no decision made, no contract signed. It's just up to us to make sure we have a good look and do what is right for the team."