Force India today announced that Jules Bianchi has joined the Sivlerstone based team as its reserve driver for the coming season.
The drive has been shown as a great stepping stone to a full time Formula 1 seat with the team with Tonio Liuzzi, Paul di Resta and most recently Nico Hulkenburg having all used their time in the role to move into a race seat with the team in recent years.
The move will see the 22-year-old Frenchman participate in a minimum of nine Friday practice sessions during Grand Prix weekends and will get his first run in the new car during pre-season testing next month.
Speaking today Bianchi said:
“I’m obviously excited to join Sahara Force India and the chance to get track time during race weekends is an important step for me,” said the youngster. “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 has been heavily supported by Ferrari in recent years as one of their most prized young drivers, along with Sauber’s Sergio Perez, but this move offers him a legitimate opportunity to showcase his talents and with Paul di Resta already linked with a move to the factory Mercedes team this opportunity is one that could easily see Bianchi on the Formula 1 grid in a years time.
His new teamboss, Vijay Mallya, said:
“I am delighted to welcome Jules into the Sahara Force India family,” commented the Indian. “We always keep an eye on young, talented drivers and his performance in GP2 certainly impressed us all. By giving Jules the opportunity to be part of our 2012 campaign, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to young drivers. We are proud of our track record in this regard and I have no doubt that Jules will quickly settle into the team and make a valuable contribution to our efforts on track this season.”