Jules Bianchi replaces Luiz Razia at Marussia to complete 2013 line-up
Brazilian dropped without ever racing for cash-strapped team
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 13/03/13 2:30pm
With Razia's sponsors failing to deliver the funds that secured his appointment just a month ago as a replacement for Timo Glock, the Brazilian has been dropped without ever racing for the team - or indeed in F1.
"A sponsor let him down," confirmed Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz. "Marussia had to move very quickly and they have done that. Bianchi has some sponsorship from France and Italy, but he is also linked to Ferrari and I think that's an interesting sidebar to this story.
"Cosworth [Marussia's current engine suppliers] are an independent company and have said they can't make the investment that is required for the new engine regulations that are coming to Formula 1 next year. So Marussia are looking for engines, Bianchi is linked to Ferrari, and so, in many ways, Razia not coming up with a big cheque might be the best thing that has ever happened to Marussia.
"From what looked like a very serious situation, they've ended up with a pretty good deal: someone who is young, who is quick, and someone who has a bit of money and supported by Ferrari who might give Marussia an engine next year."
For Bianchi, a graduate from the Scuderia's Driver Academy, the sudden appointment caps a remarkable 48 hours in which he was first overlooked in favour of Adrian Sutil by Force India before being offered his first foray into the pinnacle of motorsport.
"It's the correct choice," summarised Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert.
The young Frenchman will run in both of the remaining days of the ongoing Barcelona test.
"We have found ourselves in a situation where we have had to terminate our contract with Luiz Razia," confirmed team boss John Booth.
"Having made clear the basis on which we must operate in 2013, and given the steps we had taken to put that new structure in place, we had no alternative but to remain true to the principles which we had identified as being key to securing our long-term future."
Bianchi, meanwhile, described himself as "thrilled" at landing a seat on the 2013 grid.
"Racing in Formula 1 this season has been my goal over the winter and after evaluating a number of options I am very excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate that I am ready for this next step in my racing career. I am also very grateful to the Ferrari Driver Academy that has always supported me and has given me the possibility to mature as a racing driver enabling me to be fully prepared for this new exciting challenge.
"The next two weeks of preparation for the season will be incredibly busy but I am ready to get started tomorrow with my first day in the MR02."
The 2013 Grid in full
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
McLaren: Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
Lotus: Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Sauber: Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.
Williams: Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.
Force India: Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil.
Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.
Caterham: Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
Marussia: Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.