Jules Bianchi to replace Luiz Razia in Marussia Formula 1 team

Jules Bianchi will race for Marussia this season after the team was forced to terminate Luiz Razia's contract, AUTOSPORT can reveal

Jules Bianchi to replace Luiz Razia in Marussia Formula 1 team

The Frenchman will test for the team at Barcelona on Saturday and then complete half a day of running on Sunday.

Although the deal is not believed to have been signed yet, Bianchi will make his debut in the Australian Grand Prix later this month.

Bianchi is known to be able to bring some money to Marussia, although he will struggle to match the starting price being quoted by the team, believed to be just over the £5 million mark.

Razia was announced as a race driver during the first pre-season Formula 1 test at Jerez after his backer made an initial payment for the seat.

AUTOSPORT understands that second scheduled payment deadline was missed, which led to the team pulling Razia from the car in last week's Barcelona test and running team-mate Max Chilton for all four days.

Marussia allowed extra time for the agreed backing to appear and held off on making a decision until the Friday of the final test, but has now been forced to take the decision to drop Razia.

Chilton continued to drive on the first two days of the current Barcelona test, but the team was keen to ensure that a deal for a replacement was agreed in time for Bianchi to test before Melbourne.

It was in talks with alternative drivers, including ex-HRT racer Narain Karthikeyan, until today before choosing Bianchi.

Ferrari, which has nurtured Bianchi's career, was known to be keen on him racing this year.

He missed out on the second Force India seat to Adrian Sutil earlier this week. Bianchi's management then began pushing in earnest for the Marussia chance.

Marussia would not comment on the situation, although an announcement is expected soon.

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