Luca di Montezemolo says that Jules Bianchi would have joined Ferrari
Former president reckons the Scuderia had Frenchman lined up to replace Kimi Raikkonen
By Sky Sports Digital
Last Updated: 21/07/15 8:20am
Luca di Montezemolo has said that Ferrari’s intention had been for Jules Bianchi to drive for them once Kimi Raikkonen’s time at the Scuderia is up.
Paying tribute to the Frenchman, who died on Friday nine months after his accident at the Japanese GP, Ferrari's former president said that Bianchi’s death leaves a "huge void".
"Jules Bianchi was one of us, was a member of the Ferrari family and was the driver we had picked for the future, once the collaboration with Raikkonen was over," Montezemolo told Sky Sports Italia.
"He was a first-class, private, fast, polite, very attached to Ferrari and promising."
Bianchi joined Ferrari's academy programme in 2009 after winning the F3 Euroseries title. They supported him throughout his spells in GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 and he tested regularly for them, the last time coming at Silverstone in July 2014.
Making his F1 race debut for Marussia in 2013, Bianchi scored their only points to date when he finished ninth in last year’s Monaco GP.
"A bitter fate has taken him away, leaving us in a huge void," Montezemolo added. "I am close to his family, which in recent months has shown great courage in difficult times, and to his many friends at Ferrari.
"We lost an exceptional guy, and we will remember him with great affection."
Bianchi had said he felt ready to join Ferrari just three days before his accident, when speculation was reaching fever pitch that Fernando Alonso would leave for McLaren.
"I have been working for that since I’m in the Academy, end of 2009," he said. "So, now I did nearly two seasons in Formula 1.
"I think I have good experience and I feel ready for that, for sure."