Jules Bianchi – one of a multitude of academy drivers on Ferrari’s books – will be loaned to Force India this year as the Silverstone team’s official reserve driver.
As we had predicted earlier this month, the 22-year-old will participate in roughly half of the Friday morning practice sessions in the VJM04 this season, as well as have some pre-season testing with the squad.
The Frenchman has been part of Ferrari’s development scheme for several years, but he has rarely been entrusted with much in the way of actual running in one of Ferrari’s F1 cars. He did, however, drive for the team over the three-day ‘Young Drivers Test’ at Abu Dhabi last November.
“The chance to get track time during race weekends is an important step for me,” he is quoted as saying in Force India’s press release.
“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 am delighted to welcome Jules into the Sahara Force India family,” added Force India team principal Dr Vijay Mallya. “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.”
[Image via AUTOSPORT]