It was confirmed by Former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo that the late Jules Bianchi was tabbed as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement for the Scuderia whenever it decided to part ways with the Finn.
Bianchi, who died last Friday as a result of serious head injuries at Suzuka in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, was in his second year with the Marussia F1 Team but was also a part of Ferrari’s driver development program.
Commonly known as a backmarker team, Marussia’s first ever points came at wheel of Bianchi with a ninth-place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix. Later that same season, the Frenchman got the nod to replace Raikkonen in a test at Silverstone in which he paced the field with a car that was largely considered uncompetitive in comparison to Mercedes and Williams.
The 25-year-old made 34 starts in Formula One, all with Marussia.
“We had chosen him for the future, once the collaboration with Raikkonen was over. Jules Bianchi was one of us, he was a member of the Ferrari family,” Montezemolo wrote to Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport.
“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.”
Just days before his accident, Bianchi had spoken of his readiness to race for Ferrari after Fernando Alonso announced his departure for McLaren.
Raikkonen has been the centerpiece of debate as to whether or not the team will keep him for the 2016 season. The 35-year-old has publicly stated that Ferrari would be the last team he drives for in F1.
With recent unconfirmed reports surfacing saying Ferrari have bought out the contract and signed Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, this could indeed be the last year we witness the 2007 Formula One World Champion race in the pinnacle of motorsport.
Image: Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd