Posted on December 2, 2009
Bianchi signs long term Ferrari contract | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Jules Bianchi has signed up to Ferrari on a contract believed to be for three years. This is the beginning of the young driver programme which team principal Stefano Domenicali spoke about last summer.

“Jules is tied to the Maranello squad with a multi-year contract, confirming Ferrari’s commitment to young talent, a policy of which Felipe Massa is a prime example. Further and more far reaching initiatives will be established in the near future,” said a statement on the Ferrari website.

Picture 38
Bianchi, 20, is from a racing background. His grandfather Mauro was a successful GT driver and his uncle Lucien won the 1968 Le Mans 24 hours. Bianchi is managed by Nicolas Todt. He is currently on the second day of testing in Jerez with Ferrari, where he set the ninth fastest time today. He has done 200 laps over the last two days, almost 1,000 kilometres. Britain’s Gary Paffett was fastest for McLaren. Tomorrow Bianchi will hand the car over to three other young hopefuls.

The plan is for Bianchi to contest the GP2 series with Todt’s ART team next season, “It’s the team I won the Euro F3 championship with, ” said Bianchi, “And my goal will be to finish in the top three. Only by doing that can I hope to progress into Formula 1.”

Ferrari does not tend to give race seats to young drivers, they need a few years’ experience, so Bianchi will have to be farmed out to another team, as Felipe Massa was with Sauber. The team will devise a proper young driver programme for him, which is likely to follow the pattern they used with Massa. The only difference is that Massa’s role as Ferrari test driver meant that he actually did quite a bit of testing. Nowadays that is not possible due to the harsh test restrictions.

A Sauber seat in 2011 for Bianchi is a possibility given that his team and Ferrari will again have a close relationship due to an engine contract.

Bianchi spoke yesterday to L’Equipe about his feelings on driving an F1 car for the first time, “It’s strange,” he said.” Everyone is looking at you, the engine is running. I didn’t want to put myself under pressure, but it was certainly there. I had doubts, the fear of not getting the job done. It was astonishing when I accelerated hard, the power is considerable. And I won’t talk about the braking! I thought my head was going to go through the steering wheel it was so violent. I feel exhausted, it’s a huge physical effort and a lot of nervous tension. ”

Bianchi also spoke about his recent visit to Maranello, where “Everyone lives to work for Ferrari. And now I’m a small part of that. I’d forgotten that this is my first F1 test and I was driving for the best team in the world. I’m going to stay close to the team, continue to learn and progress, work on the simulator.”

As for his contract he said, “It’s incredible, like everything I am living at the moment. But it doesn’t mean that my place is assured in F1.”

No, but it seems we could have another Lewis Hamilton on our hands, exceptional skill shown in karting, a commanding transition to single seaters, his route to the top skillfully planned. He’s had less fanfare than Hamilton, but he certainly looks like the real deal.

1. Paffett McLaren 1m18.718s 80 Laps
2. Hulkenberg Williams 1m19.184s 94
3. Ricciardo Red Bull 1m19.243s 93
4. Di Resta Force India 1m19.411s 58
5. Gutierrez Sauber 1m20.190s 68
6. Conway Brawn 1m20.222s 83
7. Ericsson Brawn 1m20.440s 37
8. Hildebrand Force India 1m20.517s 50
9. Bianchi Ferrari 1m20.585s 113
10. Di Grassi Renault 1m20.898s 55
11. Tung Renault 1m21.492s 67
12. Bortolotti Toro Rosso 1m21.761s 69

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Bianchi signs long term Ferrari contract
32 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Finn # 1
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 6:29 pm 

    Fantastic opportunity: Ferrari need some new blood . . . just look how they struggled to fill Massa’s seat this year. Early days for Bianchi, but he has a much envied contract and a lot to deliver.


  2.   2. Posted By: Jodum5
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 6:35 pm 

    He could also fizzle in GP2. We’ll see.


    TinyJim Reply:

    GP2 in my opinion is a red-herring. It’s all about what team you are in and how much money you’ve got in the bank. If your looking at GP2 for talent your looking in the wrong place.


    Tim L Reply:

    Now there is a positive view….


  3.   3. Posted By: MIKE LEA
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 6:45 pm 

    Hi James,

    I think it’s good that Ferrari are taking on a young driver, but with Fisi as reserve, and Badoer and Gene seemingly still on the books (not sure why?) will Bianchi get any further testing under his belt before the new season? I like Bernie’s idea for the teams to run a rookie tester on Mondays after a race. Seems so sensible it will never happen…


  4.   4. Posted By: TinyJim
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 6:47 pm 

    Even better, we have only a few years before the talent of Aaro Vainio, Nick De Vries, and Oliver Rowland (you’ll know him) come through as well!


  5.   5. Posted By: Stephen Kellett
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 7:05 pm 

    …but it seems we could have another Lewis Hamilton on our hands…

    He also seems very modest, which has got to be a good thing. Old head on young shoulders?


    Williams4Ever Reply:

    Or maybe a Gary Paffett :P


  6.   6. Posted By: Silverstoned
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 7:19 pm 

    How many great drivers have come through a “young driver programme”?

    If the best examples are Hamilton and Massa, you could argue that of the two only Hamilton can claim that adjective “great”. Of course some may disagree.

    In any case, does it make good sense for McLaren and Ferrari to nurture young drivers? why go to the trouble of making your own cream when you can just skim the pans of others? won’t the best drivers always wind up in the best cars?


    Thomas Reply:

    Well Michael Schumacher joined Mercedes’ young driver kind of program in ’90…


    Leigh O'Gorman Reply:

    Young driver programs are relatively new to motorsport, which kind of dents the argument a little.


    Petition2DChicaneTumburello Reply:

    I am getting tired at the constant jibs at Massa. Let’s not forget that had it not been for a mechanical failure on a Toyota, he would have been a World Champion and the much ballyhooed Hamilton gone down as bottling it again. Unfortunately we didn’t quite get that hype Redox at Interlagos in 08 and here we are…

    Massa is a great driver. He is capable of beating anyone in F1 in equal equipment, a sure sign of class.


  7.   7. Posted By: David
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 7:20 pm 

    Wasn’t it 1968 when Lucien won the Le-Man? He was killed in testing in 1969 at Le-Man in an Alfa-Romeo. Is that the same Bianchi?


  8.   8. Posted By: VV
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 8:24 pm 

    “confirming Ferrari’s commitment to young talent, a policy of which Felipe Massa is a prime example”

    Surely this should be:

    “confirming Ferrari’s commitment to young talent, a policy of which Felipe Massa is the only example”


    Josias Reply:

    Makes sense. McLaren should be taken as a role model in this area – Renault tried to copy this model, went with Piquet, Grosjean, two ridiculously weak drivers.

    I hope Di Grassi can squeeze some juice out of this – late – program, if he signs with Virgin.

    Apart from Hamilton, Massa, and (perhaps) Hulkenberg, development programs hasn’t been effective at all.


    Drezman Reply:

    Renault did not have a true driver program to get to F1, although they have supported many other series.

    If you had loads of sponsorship and where prepared to sign your life away then Flav would get you a Renault/Benetton drive.


  9.   9. Posted By: wayne brookes
        Date: December 2nd, 2009 @ 11:45 pm 

    james, am i to old to join a young driver program at 32?. im pretty handy in a rover(and i bring £26.56 in backing)


    Lee Grant Reply:

    That’s it! Allen F1!

    A team fitted out with the posters from the forum combined with the smallest ever budget in F1!

    I reckon we could get our hands on a couple of Super Aguris for about £20!

    I’m sure James could get us an ‘in’ regarding a grid slot!

    This has got winner all over it!


    Williams4Ever Reply:

    Wayne – How good will be you be in Die-casts :-? £26.56 can fetch you 1:18 model, hope you will come out flying colors in “Seat fitting” test. Please write the cheque in name of Paul Stoddard, he was the last person who was accomodating F1 interests of anyone at a small cost :D


  10.   10. Posted By: Ed
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 2:28 am 

    Its great to see Ricciardo doing well straight up in his first F1 test.

    What makes it quite impressive to me is that this is before he has even competed in any of the major feeder series, like GP2 or F2, or international, like DTM or IndyCar series, unlike the other pace-setters.

    Hopefully the Australian corporate world gets behind him, and he can be the next Australian in F1 in a few years.


    James Allen Reply:

    Well they never have before….


    Ed Reply:

    Yes, very true.

    Unfortunately motorsport is still not quite a mainstream sport in Australia, but continued success from Webber and Stoner amongst others will hopefully gradually build up its profile, and make it more appealing to the corporate world.


  11.   11. Posted By: Jose - Australia
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 3:00 am 

    Hi James,

    Sorry that this is off topic but I would like to know the following: if I order your book tomorrow through the website will it still be a signed copy?

    On the topic: I am keeping an eye on Ricciardi, not because he is from Perth where I live, but because I feel he might become REAL good in F1


    James Allen Reply:

    All copies ordered through the site are signed copies. As for Ricciardo, my sources tell me that he has impressed many people this week with his performance.


    Jose - Australia Reply:

    Thank you James, I have just ordered it. As for Ricciardo: he blew the field yesterday and eztablished by far the fastest lap of the 3 days testing :)

    Re: Ed comment before and your reply – it is true that Australia is so insular. What we need is a good marketer that would bring a sponsor from Western Australia – one of the largest and richest natural resources in the world – Gorgon gas? Kimberley diamonds? Goldfields? struggling to find consumer goods here…


  12.   12. Posted By: niceguyrichy
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 7:46 am 

    what chance Di Resta gets a race seat sometime soon??
    he certainly seems pretty darn quick.
    and we need another Scot on the grid :)


  13.   13. Posted By: F1ART
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 9:51 am 

    I Looked at “Ericsson Brawn 1m20.440s 37″
    and almost thought they had picked up a new title sponsor!


  14.   14. Posted By: Paul Mc
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 11:20 am 

    Wow only 20 and signed up by Ferrari..could life be any better for him at the moment? I wish him the best and hopefully he gets a chance to drive in F1.


  15.   15. Posted By: Drezman
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 3:17 pm 

    It will be interesting to see how the different ‘training’ method compares with Hulkenberg. GP2 + feeder team vs deep-end and Rubens.


  16.   16. Posted By: Paige Michael-Shetley
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 6:16 pm 

    Bianchi seems to be on the Hamilton/Hulkenberg path, with a talent level as such. Hulkenberg still needs to compete in F1 to affirm himself.

    Bianchi isn’t the only top young talent. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Alexander Rossi can do. He’s been very, very impressive so far at such a young age and having to make the transition from easy competition in America to tough competition in Europe.


  17.   17. Posted By: Jamie Cottage
        Date: December 3rd, 2009 @ 6:20 pm 

    Suprised Hulkenberg is allowed to test under the young driver programme when he has a 2010 race seat confirmed? What’s the deal James?


    James Allen Reply:

    He’s note been in F1 so he’s eligible


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