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Steve Armstrong, RL Racing - Q&A

19 January 2013

RL Racing boss Steve Armstrong speaks to Simon Stiel about the karting career of Max Chilton, the latest British driver to join the F1 grid...


Crash.net:
How did you hear about Max when he was racing in Cadets?

Steve Armstrong:
Basically I was approached by the team he was originally with. They approached me to mechanic for him and it sort of progressed from there. I ended up running Max stand-alone under the banner of Scholar Tech, the company Max's dad set for the boys' racing.

Crash.net:
How do you think Max responded to perceptions that his career path was easier because of the family wealth?

Steve Armstrong:
I think you take on the chin really. He's no fool, he knows that the family background's good and that the money's there. He knows that deep down that everyone that has got to the level he's got, GP2, everyone's got a massive budget. If you win races, it's to your merit isn't it?

Crash.net:
Is there a talent in race craft that Max has that distinguishes him from anyone else?

Steve Armstrong:
He didn't really get a fair crack at karting, not compared to the kids he was up against because of the schooling. His mum was very level-headed and grounded in that he completed all his schooling properly. He was trying to compete against the likes of Scott Jenkins who was the next big thing. He didn't go to school and he was burnt out within two years. At that point he went from noting to being very good in karting but it didn't help him in the long run. Max got his shot every other week whereas this kid was doing it three days a week.

Max struggled a little bit in that respect but in the year we dovetailed two classes (TKM and JICA) he actually showed a lot better and that's when he got some results. He always knew that he'd be able to do it given the right time in the seat which as soon as he went to F3, he did a lot more racing and started to really sort of show himself.

Crash.net:
Could his achievements in that respect be more impressive because his family didn't neglect his education? Some karters make that mistake don't they?

Steve Armstrong:
Exactly. A lot of them go quite strong in karting and they employ private tutors so that they don't go to school. They go karting three days a week, four days a week and then do a couple of days' tutoring at home.

The Chiltons knew that they would be able to sustain the budget in car racing until such times he got sponsorship. He's got sponsorship from various quarters as well. Where he is now, he's not on the family budget. That got him so far and obviously he's out to impress and find his own sponsorship from there which he has done. They made a point of keeping him grounded and that's what you see now.

People have asked me: "Has he changed?" I'd say he hasn't at all. He keeps close to people and he still speaks to me quite a lot.

Crash.net:
He moved into T Cars at 14, was there a concern that he was leaving karts too early?

Steve Armstrong:
From my point of view, yes. I'm biased. That is my view and it always will be. It is my view that they shouldn't go until they could drive a road-car. Looking at the picture it's a slightly biased view, but I would say they had a plan and they stuck to it. From the day Max started with me aged nine, the plan was to go into T-Cars at 14. It's paid off. It wasn't a desperate move to get him into cars, it was the way they wanted to play it. They wanted to do a year in T-Cars to learn the circuits so when he hit F3 he knew he had a basic idea of the corners of the circuits across Britain.

Crash.net:
In regards to RL Racing for 2013, are you hoping to have permanent facilities at PFi? The news over the winter was you were moving there.

Steve Armstrong:
We're there now. We've now secured a third garage now so we have three garages in line. The empire's growing a little bit. We've got a double garage where we build and preparation etc. We've got another garage next door where we store the engine and the carburettors. It's all coming together quite nicely.

Crash.net:
Do you still have seats available?

Steve Armstrong:
One drive for Junior Max and there's three, maybe four drives for the Euromax Challenge.

For further information about the drives contact Steve Armstrong at 07843 586 416 or email at accounts.rlracingdept@live.co.uk


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