- Max Chilton's ESPN column
'I'm trying not to think about anything other than F1'
It's been a really busy end to the season with back-to-back races in America and Brazil, but now it's come to an end and ultimately it was a disappointing conclusion for us at Marussia as we lost out on the 10th place in the constructors' championship that we'd held for the last third of the season.
Looking at the first of the final two races, I thought Austin was a brilliant facility. The crowd seemed to love it, I thought the whole race was brilliant, it was just a shame I didn't get a chance to drive the track. I think they've got a contract for the next ten years and it's going to grow and grow every year. The crowds they had for the first year is a pretty good sign for the next nine. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
With it being a brand new circuit the team's meetings take a little bit longer because there are more things which are unknown. Also in the drivers' meeting the drivers were talking about track surfaces, whether they need bigger kerbs or less kerbing in certain places, so those bits take longer. But for a first race at a new track it went really smoothly and the race was a lot more exciting than I thought it was going to be when we all did the track walk; there was a lot more overtaking than we originally thought.
Austin was a race at which we managed to defend our 10th place at the time, and it wasn't too bad because Caterham was never too close to getting the 12th it needed in that one. But this weekend was a different matter…
It was a little bit of a tough weekend because we had the pace but Caterham had a little more speed than us in the first couple of days of practice and qualifying. We were quite confident in the race, but then as the rain comes it sort of opens it up to the back runners.
It was looking good until Timo [Glock] got hit by another car because he had to do an extra pit stop - he could possibly have finished in the points - but then it was looking very close between Charles [Pic] and Vitaly [Petrov] in the last few laps and unfortunately we lost it.
The race was a case of being out on the right tyre at the right time and John [Booth] - the team boss - said the team did that perfectly; they couldn't have done anything more to have the drivers on the track on the right tyres. It all went smoothly and swimmingly well until we got hit, and then it was out of our control.
Even at the end it was looking really promising because Daniel Ricciardo was catching very quickly and looked set to move Charles back to 14th and Vitaly to 13th place, but then Paul di Resta crashed to bring out the safety car and that's when we realised it was all over.
Everyone was obviously very upset and speechless for the first half hour or hour, but then it's like anything; time's a healer and then we were thinking we've got to get over it. It's unfortunate because for a team with no KERS we probably deserved it over Caterham, but then they've generally had more speed all year so they probably think they deserved it, so it's a bit of a tough pill to swallow. Nevertheless, we've done a lot better this year and we're hoping to do even better next year.
It's exactly like the championship battle at the front in one sense; Caterham had the quicker car but we did everything perfectly with one that wasn't quite as quick and didn't have KERS. Ultimately it wasn't quite enough for either us or Fernando Alonso, but that's racing.
Another development over the weekend was the announcement that Charles is joining Caterham next season. I had an inkling that he was going but you're never quite sure and therefore you don't assume until you hear it through the proper announcements. Obviously it's a good chance for me to take his race seat but nothing's done yet and we're still trying to work on it.
Over the winter I've just go to prepare and get as fit as possible and then see what happens. Whether I get a reserve or race seat I need to be ready, hopefully I'll find out what happens in the next couple of months.
I'm trying not to think about anything other than Formula One at the moment; there's no plan B. I obviously want the best choice but if I don't get a race seat then I don't think I'd race in another category alongside a reserve role; I think I've proven my speed and I don't think I'd benefit from it. Having said that, I won't close any doors and would give it a second thought if I don't get a race seat.
While this weekend was obviously a disappointment, there's a lot to be excited about for the future with Marussia. The team next year is looking very strong; from what I hear the car's going to be brilliant - a lot better than this year - and with KERS I think we'll have the advantage. As I said in my previous column, I feel Marussia has the best potential to move up the grid.
If all the building of the car goes smoothly then next year I don't see why we shouldn't be looking to break in to that midfield. It's a tall order, but the future's bright here, so why not?
Max Chilton is Marussia's reserve driver