Jules Bianchi was born in Nice, France in August 1989 and now at the age of 23, after a few false starts, he’s landed himself a race seat in F1 for the 2013 season. Bianchi comes from quite a successful racing dynasty as the grandson of three times GT world champion Mauro Bianchi and grandnephew of Lucien Bianchi who drove in F1 for various teams between 1959 and 1968 even scoring a 3rd place podium for Cooper in 68 at Monaco. He also won the Le Mans 24 Hour the same year so young Jules has a bit to live up too to keep the family name in good check. The good news is he comes highly rated and well thought of so has the potential to do so. He jumped out of Karting and into single seater racing in 2007 taking on the French Formula Renault 2.0 series and winning it at the first attempt. He was on the podium in all but 2 of the 13 races and won the title by a clear 50 points beating a certain Charles Pic into 4th place. Bianchi then jumped up a class to drive for ART in the Formula 3 Euro Series and in 2008 came third in the series which was won by Nico Hulkenberg, In 2009 he found his feet proper and cruised to the title. His team mates that year were Valitteri Botas and Esteban Gutierriez (who came 3rd and 9th in the championship respectively). From there Bianchi jumped into GP2 and was expected to carry on his miraculous rise to the top already receiving such high plaudits as “The next Lewis Hamilton”. Unfortunately for Bianchi this is where his career stalled a bit as 2010 became the first season he’d ever had in single seater racing where he failed to score a race victory in the category he was racing in however for most it would have been considered an impressive first season in GP2 coming 3rd behind Maldonado and Perez (beating Pic and Van Der Garde in the process) and some hoped it was to be a platform for him to build his career on. 2009 was to be a year of a disappointment for Bianchi, although he was to finally gain some victories in GP2 his form was patch at best and his season was full of too many errors, he once again finished 3rd behind the runaway champ Grosjean and just 1 point behind Fillipi (he once again beat Pic and Van Der Garde) and all that potential appeared it wasn’t going to be realised. Whoever it was who decided Bianchi was best off out of GP2 made a brave but good decision on his behalf. Moving him to the 3.5 World Series allowed him to take on the reserve role with Force India and stand on the brink of an F1 drive. He was able to be with the team on race weekends and even ran in Friday practice sessions, Meanwhile he repaired the damage done to his rep by giving it his all in the World Series, he was eventually beaten in the last race of the season to the title by Robin Frijns by 4 points but he’d done enough for people to start paying attention again. With Hulkenberg leaving Force India he was favourite for a long time to take the second seat there but after a long drawn out saga the seat went to Sutil and his hopes of running in F1 in 2013 looked dashed but literally 2 days after that announcement Luiz Razia’s sponsorship deal fell through and thus his seat at Marussia became available and Bianchi had himself a seat and finally a place with the big boys. Bianchi is well respected in the pit lane and has been on Ferrari’s books since 2009 (there was even talk of him taking the race seat from Luca Bador at one point), He was their officially reserve driver in 2011 and was ‘loaned’ out to Force India in 2012. He’s had many opportunities to drive a Ferrari at various different test sessions and its no offence to him to say they have been pulling certain strings for him. Ferrari seemed exceptionally keen to get him in a race seat for 2013 and rumours are already rife that Marussia may get an engine deal out of running with him. It has been suggested in some quarters that Ferrari are thinking he may be an ideal replacement for Massa and want him to get some F1 experience and see how he runs. We can all be pretty sure that Bianchi would rather have been proving his worth fighting in the midfield battle for Force India rather than being adrift at the back like he probably will be but maybe, just maybe, this might actually be an advantage for Bianchi’s career. At Marussia the pressure is off as no expects him to achieve anything down there. For a driver who is prone to errors under pressure it could be that finding his feet in a pressurless situation is exactly what he needs, he even has the excuse that his team mate has by far more testing time than he does(although that one won’t last for long). Bianchi already has his foot in the door at a team further up the field and is only really looking to show he has the ability to drive a car to its potential so if he can beat his team mate and mix it with the Caterhams he’s pretty much shown that, anything else is a bonus. I’m interested to see how Bianchi runs and he is certainly one of the more deserving of rookies this season. So what do we think of our 4th Frenchmen on the grid? A Ferrari driver in waiting or just another 1 year Marussia wonder?