6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Tom and Max Chilton - Reigate’s motor racing brothers

11:14 08 May 2013

Max caught in a moment of reflection (Photo:  Marussia F1 Team)

Max caught in a moment of reflection (Photo: Marussia F1 Team)

Archant

As boys, Tom and Max Chilton dreamt of racing fast cars. Now on the cusp of international acclaim - one on the touring circuit and the other in Formula One - they owe their success to childhood days spent hairing round muddy fields in Leigh, as they tell Louise Poynton over lunch at their local

Tom celebrates winning the British Touring Car Championship Independent Drivers title (Photo: Keith Hubbleday)Tom celebrates winning the British Touring Car Championship Independent Drivers title (Photo: Keith Hubbleday)

As children growing up under the Gatwick flightpath, Tom and Max Chilton would race cars against each other in a muddy field, harbouring dreams of podium finishes and the starry heights of motorsport.

Since becoming the youngest racing driver to compete in the British Touring Car Championship at 17, Tom has matured from a spiky-haired blond youth to a 28-year-old with sights set on becoming world champion. Younger brother Max, meanwhile, is poised to become the new darling of Formula One, with the 21-year-old joining Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and co on the Grand Prix grid this season.

It’s all a long way from a childhood spent messing around with engines and chasing each other in two Ford Escort Mk II cars next to the family home in Leigh, where they lived with parents, Grahame and Nadine, and sister, Alice.

“That’s what taught us car control,” explains Tom, when Surrey Life meets the pair in the cosy Plough pub near Redhill. “I would also lark about on a quad bike and Max would follow in his roll cage buggy, which had no suspension and would rattle his teeth out.”

The first ever glance of a future F1 starThe first ever glance of a future F1 star

The pair’s motorsport enthusiast father is vice-chairman of insurance giant Aon, which has led to some whispering that they may have bought their way onto the starting grid. Money obviously helps in motorsport but it is no replacement for talent and both have proven their abilities on the track at every level they have raced.

Tom started in saloon cars when he was 14 and just two years later he won the BRSCC Winter Saloon Car Championship, before moving to the British Touring Car Championship and winning the 2010 Independent Drivers’ title.

Max took a different path, racing in karts from the age of 10 before moving to Formula Three after a spell in T-Cars, a championship for drivers aged 14 to 17 that his brother had also raced in. He then made the leap to GP2, last season winning two races and finishing fourth in the championship. Following a young driver test with the Marussia F1 team, Max was named as their reserve driver for the final six races last season, taking part in the first practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Just before Christmas, he secured a full-time drive for 2013.

“At Abu Dhabi I was stepping up, with all eyes on me and sharing a track with six world champions. There was pressure, but as soon as I put my helmet on it all disappeared,” says Max, who regularly cycles circuits of the Olympic road race course up Box Hill’s Zig Zag Road as part of his gruelling training regime.

Tom and Max drove together in the Silverstone 1,000kms Le Mans Series endurance race in 2007 when Max was 16 and Tom, 21Tom and Max drove together in the Silverstone 1,000kms Le Mans Series endurance race in 2007 when Max was 16 and Tom, 21

“Those first few laps at Abu Dhabi, I was just taking it all in and couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face,” he says. “At one point the engineer came on the radio and said ‘Fernando Alonso is four seconds behind you and Michael Schumacher is on track’. I was only a couple of months old when Schumacher started out and here I was sharing a track with him. It was simply surreal.

“After finishing 2012 in GP2, I went to a good number of F1 races with Marussia and was like a fly on the wall, taking everything in and seeing how everything works. I was in the engineers’ meetings and also got to see what the drivers were saying about the car.”

Now at the cutting edge, Max has already shown outright pace and consistency at a number of the circuits he will race again in 2013, while Tom lines up in the WTCC with reigning world champions RML alongside triple champion Yvan Muller.

Youthful ambition

Growing up, the brothers fell more in love with motorsport and it became clear they had the explosive speed and formidable strength to excel in their chosen sports. Formula One was always the aim for Max.

“To be in F1 has been my dream for so long,” he says. “I have put in so much time and effort to be here, that to finally be an F1 driver is really special.”

Tom, who was diagnosed with dyslexia at school and could have carved a career in woodwork or motorsport engineering (he studied the latter at Brooklands College, Weybridge), admits that the stresses of racing took time to adjust to.

“I love racing, we both do, but when you start you are learning to try and be good at something, and it is never fun,” he says.

“I would lay awake until three in the morning going through all the different scenarios and what to do in different situations as I wanted to be so much better than anyone else.

“As you get older, you think ‘well, I’ve done 1,000 race starts now, just get on with it’. Your experience kicks in,” he laughs. “Sometimes you can want something too much and that’s one reason I worked with a sports psychologist for a time. I was overdriving at times and actually going slower because of it.

“I am due to become a father this summer, so I want to give this season everything and become world champion. Becoming a father changes your focus on everything.”

Racing ambition

For Max, 2013 is a year to prove his worth and put his raw talent to the ultimate test. A former student at Ardingly College, near Haywards Heath, where he was a member of the hockey team, he learnt track craft through karting and Formula Three where, on the weekend of his 16th birthday, he was the youngest driver in British F3 history.

Having only driven a Grand Prix car for the first time last year, he has spent the winter months working harder than ever on his fitness and it is this commitment and ambition that his brother feels will help lead to success.

“Max hates not being good enough at anything,” says Tom, with Max out of earshot. “When he was eight years old in cadet karting he made a little mistake and was crying in his helmet and hitting his fist on the steering wheel in frustration so hard he bent the steering wheel round the steering column. That’s how cross he got. He has to be a perfectionist, get the best out of himself – at everything.

“I see him most days and see how hard he is working, the hours he is putting in at the gym and with the Marussia simulator work. My fitness training is once a day, four times a week. Max is in the gym twice a day, six days a week. He needs to be ultra fit and mentally sharp to race a F1 car, his neck and core strength need to be exceptionally strong.

“He has got tougher mentally and playing golf, which he took up six or seven years ago, is good for him. It focuses his mind. When we play on the courses around Reigate he is not as good as me on the approaches, but on the greens he’s very sharp. I can’t putt for toffee!”

With their brotherly competitiveness fortunately focussed on differing objectives, don’t be surprised to see Max leave his mark on Formula One and Tom push for the world touring championship this year. They’ve come a long way from that muddy field in Leigh - and they’re clearly loving every minute of it.

• To follow Max and Tom Chilton’s progress, visit their respective websites at maxchilton.com and tomchilton.com

 

***

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill on Top Gear, City bankers and his life in Surrey

F1 star Lewis Hamilton on McLaren, Woking and what's driving him round the Benz in Weybridge?

Brooklands Museum: motoring history to rival Goodwood, Silverstone and Brands Hatch

0 comments

More from Surrey Life

With its picturesque rolling countryside and some of the most desirable residential roads and private estates in the country, not to mention of course the excellent transport links, Surrey is a hotbed of talent. Here’s 50 of our county’s most famous faces*

Read more
Fri, 16:15

Great excitement at the Rose Theatre, Kingston as Good Canary, written by Zach Helm and directed by John Malkovich, begins its UK run

Read more
Fri, 15:58

Jill Zander, a Courthouse Medispa, is holding a pre-Christmas open evening on Thursday 10 November, from 5-9pm.

Read more
Fri, 15:22

Thinking of using natural stone, but not sure what sort would be best for what you have in mind? Below is a quick rundown on the different types of stone and what to use where.

Read more

The plight of the humble honey bee has been much discussed in recent years. In the tranquil setting of the Rural Life Centre in Tilford, we find Farnham Beekeepers Association doing their bit to maintain the buzz. Margaret Lennard takes us among the hives

Read more
Thu, 10:26

As world-famous illustrator Axel Scheffler looks forward to hosting a children’s workshop to help raise awareness of our local environment, Tinx Newton meets up with him at his home in Richmond for an exclusive interview

Read more

Every month, we team up with Guildford’s Tourist Information Centre to reveal some of the best things going on across the county

Read more
Thu, 09:26

While it’s Matt Worswick’s introduction at The Latymer that has stolen the headlines lately, Pennyhill Park, an Exclusive Hotel & Spa in Bagshot, has also been quietly working away on its second restaurant this summer – and has now unveiled its new-look The Brasserie.

Read more
Thu, 09:00

As Surrey dresses up in its autumnal coat, we dip into Guildford Book Festival and meet David Essex, explore The National Archives and celebrate the very best of our county’s food and drink scene

Read more

A long-time contributor to Surrey Life’s Beautiful Surrey photography pages, Julian Heath’s stunning scenes around the county often grace our magazine. This month, we challenged him to pick his ten top places for a photo shoot

Read more
Wed, 09:37

After a combined 48 years in the business, Martin & Wheatley was founded in 2014 by Jamie Wheatley and Sheila Martin.

Read more
Tue, 11:55

Can you sum up the beauty of our county in one photo for Surrey Life’s annual Beautiful Surrey Photography Competition?

Read more
Tue, 11:54

Are you inspired by Surrey’s bucolic beauty? Love to have a chance to show your work in a gallery? Then why not enter our new competition to find the Surrey Life Landscape Painter of the Year 2016.

Read more
Tue, 11:49

A record-breaking number of votes from Surrey Life readers and the general public meant that this year’s Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards judging panel has never had tougher decisions to make. Here we announce the winners

Read more
SLFDA

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad
Surrey Life Application Link

Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search