Bianchi was 'chosen for Ferrari future', says Luca di Montezemolo

Ferrari had already decided that Jules Bianchi would take Kimi Raikkonen's Formula 1 race seat whenever it parted with the Finn, according to the Scuderia's former chairman Luca di Montezemolo

Bianchi was 'chosen for Ferrari future', says Luca di Montezemolo

Bianchi, who died in hospital last Friday nine months after being gravely injured in a crash in the Japanese Grand Prix, had been a member of Ferrari's academy programme and a regular test driver for the team since 2009.

Three months before his accident, he had stood in for Raikkonen in the post-British GP F1 test following the Finn's big crash on the opening lap of the Silverstone race, and set the pace.

"Jules Bianchi was one of us, he was a member of the Ferrari family and was the racing driver we had chosen for the future, once the collaboration with Kimi Raikkonen came to an end," di Montezemolo, who parted with Ferrari last September, wrote in a tribute to Bianchi in Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"The Suzuka crash has taken away from us a top guy, reserved, quick, very polite, extremely attached to Ferrari, one who could work and interact well with the technicians too; therefore, we lose a driver with a certain future."

Bianchi was given his first Ferrari test at the end of 2009, just after clinching that year's Formula 3 Euro Series title, and maintained its support through subsequent GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 campaigns.

All 34 of his grand prix starts came with Ferrari's customer team Marussia, which he joined for the 2013 season in a last-minute deal after plans to run Luiz Razia fell through.

"I still remember him when, just past his teens, he arrived at Maranello," di Montezemolo added.

"With us, he climbed every step in racing until his F1 debut with Marussia with Ferrari power.

"We cared a lot for this boy, you could already glimpse his talent for racing.

"We wanted him to grow up in our team, and that's why in 2009 we placed him in Ferrari's youth programme, the Driver Academy.

"He would be the one driving for Ferrari after the experience in GP2 and after some fine performances in F1 and in some tests that had our technicians very impressed.

"A bitter destiny has instead taken him away from us, leaving an indelible mark and a great pain inside us.

"I feel strongly for his family, who over such difficult months have shown courage and dignity.

"And I also feel for his many friends at Ferrari. We have lost an exceptional guy. And we will remember him forever with great affection."

Days before his accident, Bianchi had declared himself "ready" to step into a Ferrari race seat if the team needed him to amid Fernando Alonso's departure for McLaren.

Bianchi's funeral will take place in Nice on Tuesday.

Translation by Michele Lostia

shares
comments

Bianchi's career milestones in pictures

Williams F1 team must improve its wet form - Valtteri Bottas

The convoluted tier system that reveals an F1 strength

The convoluted tier system that reveals an F1 strength

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Australian GP
GP Racing

The convoluted tier system that reveals an F1 strength The convoluted tier system that reveals an F1 strength

How F1's new era has exposed the downside of its most important rule

How F1's new era has exposed the downside of its most important rule

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Jonathan Noble

How F1's new era has exposed the downside of its most important rule How F1's new era has exposed the downside of its most important rule

What next for Mercedes in its quest to get back to the top of F1?

What next for Mercedes in its quest to get back to the top of F1?

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Saudi Arabian GP
Alex Kalinauckas

What next for Mercedes in its quest to get back to the top of F1? What next for Mercedes in its quest to get back to the top of F1?

Why Piastri’s F1 homecoming will be a landmark occasion

Why Piastri’s F1 homecoming will be a landmark occasion

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Australian GP
GP Racing

Why Piastri’s F1 homecoming will be a landmark occasion Why Piastri’s F1 homecoming will be a landmark occasion

The recent Australian GP form history that will boost Ferrari in F1 2023

The recent Australian GP form history that will boost Ferrari in F1 2023

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Australian GP
Alex Kalinauckas

The recent Australian GP form history that will boost Ferrari in F1 2023 The recent Australian GP form history that will boost Ferrari in F1 2023

The cycle of F1 upheaval Williams must end to rediscover past glories

The cycle of F1 upheaval Williams must end to rediscover past glories

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
GP Racing

The cycle of F1 upheaval Williams must end to rediscover past glories The cycle of F1 upheaval Williams must end to rediscover past glories

The state of play in F1's technical silly season

The state of play in F1's technical silly season

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Jake Boxall-Legge

The state of play in F1's technical silly season The state of play in F1's technical silly season

Ranking the top 10 pre-war grand prix drivers

Ranking the top 10 pre-war grand prix drivers

Plus
Plus
Formula 1
Kevin Turner

Ranking the top 10 pre-war grand prix drivers Ranking the top 10 pre-war grand prix drivers