Chip Ganassi Racing manager Mike Hull says the ex-F1 driver and Indy Lights graduate learned a lot in his first day of IndyCar practice at St. Petersburg.
Chilton was 22nd and last in the morning session but moved up to 18th in the afternoon to beat Ganassi teammate Charlie Kimball by 0.02sec and end up just 0.15sec off another teammate, Tony Kanaan.
Hull told Motorsport.com: “I thought his day was actually really good. I’m not sure what everyone else did with their rookies, but what Max’s guys and Max himself decided to do was fill it up with fuel this morning.
“I think that allowed him to gain a lot of knowledge about a track where we actually race. It was also a big step forward for Max learning about the difference between the handling of an IndyCar and a Formula 1 car when they have a full fuel load. So that was very beneficial.
“This afternoon he worked on the other side of it, which is learning how to identify every bump on the race track with a light fuel load. So yeah, good progressive day.”
“He didn’t damage anything, either, so that makes the workload a lot easier and we get a lot more done.”
Schooled by veteran teammates
Hull said that the former Manor F1 driver who finished fifth in the Indy Lights championship last year, had spent a lot of time listening to the advice of his teammates and engineers.
“He’s very sponge-like!” remarked Hull. “He’s a big team guy. You can tell right away, by the way he handles himself, that Max has come from a big system. We could see that long before we came to St. Pete, from how he was around us before our first test.
“And then from the first test [at Sonoma] onward, he very much understood how to use the resource that the team makes available to the driver. That’s his teammates, his engineer, the other engineer, the people working on the car and turning the wrenches… He understands what aptitude is required to be able to take full advantage of what he has been given.
“Sometimes it takes a while for a driver to be comfortable with that. They’re sometimes apprehensive about what all those things can do for him. Whereas Max is burrowing in right away, and I think that will suit him really well as the season goes on.”