Jules Bianchi gets third driver role at Force India

2012 F1 season

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Bianchi drove for Ferrari in the young drivers test

Jules Bianchi will be Force India’s third driver for the forthcoming season.

The team confirmed Bianchi will drive in at least nine Friday practice session during the year and will drive the team’s new car in pre-season testing.

Bianchi, who is part of the Ferrari driver development programme, said: “Being regularly in a current car is the best way to learn quickly and I hope it will put me in a strong position to one day move into a race seat.

“The next few months will be really exciting as I get to know the team, see how they work, and prepare for my time in the car. I would like to thank everyone for believing in me and especially Sahara Force India for giving me this great opportunity.”

Bianchi finished third in GP2 in 2010 and 2011.

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Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Jules Bianchi gets third driver role at Force India”

  1. Great Scott! He’s a Ferrari driver; but Findia is with Merc engines… is Bianchi still with the Ferrari Driver Academy?

    1. I was just about to ask that! It’s awkward, really awkward…

    2. I’m guessing Bianchi ended up here due to lack of other options elsewhere. Sauber has Guttierez lined up, while Toro Rosso is in the business of developing Red Bull drivers, not Ferrari drivers.

      Still, what this does tell me is that it’s rather likely one of di Resta or Hulkenberg will be out of Force India by season’s end, probably to Mercedes.

      1. I personally think that if Hulkenberg gets another year out of F1 that would be an absolute tragedy.

      2. @Journeyer that will depend on Schumacher I expect. Long-standing rumours have Di Resta lined up as his replacement at Merc so it’s a definite possibility. Still, a Ferrari backed driver piloting a Mercedes powered car? Would be an odd move for Ferrari.

        1. I suspect that the chances of Schumacher leaving before he wants to are pretty slim to be honest.

    3. Wasn’t there still some old thing about those Ferrari engines they habe before? Maybe giving Bianchi firday outings settled that bill!

      And given the current balance of their owner, it might have went towards settling other bills as well.

  2. So three of the top four drivers in GP2 last year have now got race or test seats with F1 teams.

    1. And the WSR runner-up. Mind you the WSR has quite a bit less in terms of F1 graduates. Maybe they fare better in terms of F1 results though? A young German WSR grad has gotten quite some good results in the last few years

      1. Historically, the main F1 feeder series (F2, then F3000, then GP2) has had mixed results. While it has produced plenty of race winners, the three feeder series combined has produced a grand total of ONE F1 champion (Lewis Hamilton). All the other F1 greats took other routes into the sport.

        1. thatscienceguy
          28th January 2012, 10:28

          Not sure where you got that from, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Jochen Rindt, Keke Rosberg, Damon Hill and Fernando Alonso all were lifted into F1 directly from F2 or F3000.

  3. The man part of the Ferrari driver development programme thing signs for Force India. Didn’t see that coming.

    1. @steph there has been some speculation before. I think it has been in the round up as well.

      Still strange, but I think it’s a question of money talks.

      And it also shows that Mercedes either don’t have enough influence at Force India to prevent this, or that they don’t care. Personally, I think it’s the latter. Maybe that’ll change when a mr Bianchi at Ferrari wins the title from a mr DiResta, driving a Mercedes…

    2. There had been speculation, but I never believed it. Well, at least he can get some experience in F1 machinery.

    3. Ferrari looking for a spot to give Jules some experience

      Promising F1 team with an owner finding himself a bit cash strapped


  4. I Love The Pope
    27th January 2012, 15:05

    Jules Bianchi has an awesome name. Other than that, I have nothing to add.

  5. Does it mean Ferrari has cut its ties to Bianchi and no longer considers him a prospect for SF?

    Oh, and I wouldn’t be myself If I hadn’t add a bit of conspiracy theory: What If Ferrari are simply freeing place for somebody else…perhaps someone who needs a great load of testing after serious injuries ;)

    1. Or they (Ferrari) told Bianchi that Perez is their man for the future and he can try to propel his career elsewhere.

    2. No, it rather means that Ferrari were now successfull in getting Bianchi some seat time in an F1 car, something they said to be targetting for a couple of months now.

      1. It’s hard to believe that a third driver role at Force India, which plays similar role to Mercedes as Sauber does for Ferrari, was actually SF’s doing. I don’t think Mercedes would allow putting there a Ferrari-connected driver. You don’t feed somebody else’s babies.

        1. But why would Mercedes be able to stop that from happening, @cyclops_PL?

          Force India is their customer, only they probably get a good price cut on the engines for fielding DiResta. Actually Mercedes might be interested in seeing how Bianchi compares to DiResta.

  6. I’m not convinced this is the best move for Bianchi. If there’s one area of his game that needs working on it’s his racecraft, especially his start. He was involved in some daft incidents last year, such as in Spain, and he cracked under pressure from Grosjean in Germany. Getting 90 minutes’ driving at every other race weekend is not going to help him in this respect.

    I think he would have been better off doing Force India reserve driver duties at non-GP2 support weekends, while spending a third year in the main series. But then, nothing less than a championship victory would have sufficed, and maybe he considered that too great a risk to his reputation.

    1. He said a while back he wouldn’t risk it. Says a bit of his confidence though

      1. That’s not a good sign :/

        I’m really not convinced with Bianchi.

        Talent, yes.
        Enough to merit a Ferrari drive? errr….

    2. @keithcollantine Agreed, but then again perhaps working for the big boys will allow him to mature faster. We could have a situation like Alguersuari/Marko in Korea if he gets in Alonso’s way though :/

    3. If there’s one area of his game that needs working on it’s his racecraft, especially his start.

      He’s in good company, then – Nico Hulkenberg was the worst starter in 2010.

    4. It all depends on what his chances were of getting a really good shot at that GP2 championship. And it seems, that his Manager was not sure enough of that.

      I must say, that I really am quite unsure about what to expect from Bianchi, clearly he has some potential, but he should be learning to cut out the mistakes a lot quicker than he has been doing so far.

  7. So many frogs, Rene Arnoux might even turn up at the first GP at this rate.

  8. As a driver very tough thing to decide,obviously it’s a great opportunity to become someone’s test driver but on the other hand should he still race in GP2.I kinda agree with Keith,let him test drive the car in non GP2 circuits.

  9. Bianchi doesn’t strike me as being ready for this step. However, I hope it goes well for him. It will be really interesting to see how he compares to Di Resta and Hulkenberg.

  10. So after about 3 races in, there’ll be calls for him to be put into the Force India for a Sunday, leaving Di Resta out of a seat..

    Such a shame that if FI continue their driver rotation routine, it’ll either be Paul or Nico out next year…

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