Jules Bianchi ready for a race seat as he prepares for Friday audition in Austin
Youngster to drive for Force India in Practice One at the U.S. GP
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 13/03/13 2:29pm
Although the Silverstone-based outfit remain in no rush to confirm the identity of Nico Hulkenberg's replacement for next season, a clue to their 2013 thinking has possibly been dropped with the news that Bianchi will once again drive for the team in Friday morning's practice session.
The Frenchman has regularly impressed this term, most notably during September's Young Driver Test at Magny-Cours when he drove for both Force India and Ferrari and topped the timesheets on all three days of the event.
"I've learned a lot from this role and from driving in P1," Bianchi, a graduate of Ferrari's driver academy, told their website. "Even if I'd driven before at the previous year's Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi and also at Jerez, it's not the same as driving during a race weekend, because you are under a lot more pressure.
"I feel I have grown up a lot with this experience and I am now ready to be a race driver in Formula 1. I hope I find an official seat for next year as this is definitely my dream. I feel I had a good season in World Series and did a good job with Force India as well, so I feel ready and think I deserve a seat in F1."
Having already formed a close association with the team, and a vacancy alongside Paul di Resta yet to be filled, Force India represent the likeliest opportunity for a promotion onto the 2013 grid. However, the French youngster is making no secret of his ultimate ambition: "My dream is to race for Ferrari one day!"
Ahead of his latest audition for a race seat, Bianchi has familiarised himself with the Circuit of Americas in Ferrari's simulator. Interestingly, not only has the 23-year-old given the circuit a resounding endorsement as a race venue but he also believes it will suit the F2012 of Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard seeks to prevent Sebastian Vettel wrapping up a third successive title.
"The Austin track layout looks really interesting with many quick corners. The first part is similar to the first sector in Japan and then the Becketts complex at Silverstone. I think it will be very interesting in terms of driving, while there are also many slow corners. Overall, judging from the simulator, I'd say it's one of the best tracks," he confirmed.
"Everyone in Maranello has been working very hard to improve the performance of the F2012 for this race and, in my opinion, it should be competitive at the Circuit of the Americas. It is always difficult to overtake in Formula 1, but in Austin, you have two heavy braking points with a long straight in between, so there should be plenty of overtaking opportunities this weekend."