Chilton happy with qualifying display

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Marussia driver Max Chilton has expressed his delight with his first Formula One qualifying performance to Sky Sports.

Despite qualifying eventually being postponed until the following morning, the weather allowed Q1 to go ahead as normal after a thirty minute delay. In his first outing, Chilton qualified in 20th place ahead of both Caterham drivers, and the Briton suggested he may have gone even quicker had it not been for red flags late on.

“For my first qualifying it was pretty challenging, but I’m really happy with it. It was a real shame about the yellow flags as I had to back out and lost a lot of time.

“But we finished ahead of Caterham and that’s what we wanted. The car was a real joy to drive and we’re happy with our job.”

Chilton was also relishing the opportunity of competing in his first race on Sunday, but he set himself the modest target of simply finishing.

“It looks like it will be dry on Sunday and I know we’ve got a quick car in the dry, so either way we’re comfortable. Hopefully we can bring both cars home.”

Teammate Jules Bianchi qualified just in front of Chilton in 19th place, albeit by eight-tenths of a second.

The Australian Grand Prix is renowned for its high rate of attrition, and this could work in Chilton’s favor relying he can get his car to the finish, potentially taking advantage of retirements throughout the race.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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