Jules Bianchi will remain a Marussia F1 Team driver for the 2014 season, the team has announced today.
The announcement follows recent confirmation by the team that it will switch to Ferrari power under next year’s new turbo engine regulations – Bianchi’s junior career has been supported closely by the Italian manufacturer.
After a year spent as Force India’s test driver, the 24-year-old was drafted into Marussia’s 2013 driver line-up at the eleventh hour after its originally-signed driver, Luiz Razia, defaulted on a payment from his sponsors before the season even began.
The Formula Renault 3.5 championship runner-up has acquitted himself well in his maiden year of Formula 1 racing, peaking with a thirteenth-placed finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Nice-born driver earned himself a fourteenth-placed ranking in our Mid-Year Driver Review, ahead of notable drivers who included Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado.
“I couldn’t have wished for a more supportive environment in which to make my F1 debut and from the very beginning I have always felt completely at home with the team,” he is quoted as saying in the team’s media release.
“We started the season very well and, while the challenge has increased as the season has developed, we have learned important lessons together that will place us in a much stronger position next year when there are a lot of changes for the sport and the team to get used to.
“I am very excited to be part of the team as we all enter this new era of F1 and I look forward to achieving some rewarding performances together.”
While the team has indicated it would like to retain a “consistency of line-up” in 2014, it is still to confirm if Bianchi’s teammate, Max Chilton, will be kept on for a second season.
Chilton – a former race-winner in the GP2 Series – has largely been put in the shade by Bianchi all season, although he does come with the substantial financial backing of the AON insurance group, which is chaired by his father Grahame.