F1Weekly podcast # 686

Clark and Nasir talk about the passing of Jules Bianchi, we have Motorsports Mondial and, we are featuring our first Jules Bianchi interview which took place at Mugello in 2008.

In 2007, Bianchi left karting and raced in French Formula Renault 2.0 for SG Formula, where he finished as champion with five wins. He also competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup where he had one pole position and one fastest lap in three races.

In late 2007, Bianchi signed with ART Grand Prix to compete in the Formula 3 Euro Series.

In 2008 Bianchi won the Masters of Formula 3 at Zolder, and also finished third in the 2008 Formula 3 Euro Series season.

Bianchi continued in the F3 Euroseries in 2009, leading ART’s line-up along with rookie team-mates Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrien Tambay. With eight wins, Bianchi sealed the title with a round to spare, at Dijon-Prenois. He then added a ninth win at the final round at Hockenheim. He also drove in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series atMonaco, after SG Formula acquired the cars formerly run by Kurt Mollekens.

Bianchi drove for ART in the subsequent GP2 Asia season and the 2010 GP2 Series season. He competed in three of the four rounds of the GP2 Asia championship. In the main series, Bianchi took two pole positions and a number of points positions before he was injured in a first-lap crash at the Hungaroring. In the feature race, he spun into the path of the field exiting the first corner, and was struck head-on by Ho-Pin Tung, sustaining a fractured second lumbar vertebra in the process. Bianchi was fourth in the drivers’ championship at the time of his injury. Despite initial pessimistic assessments of the severity of his injury, he recovered to take part in the next round of the championship.

Bianchi remained with ART for 2011, and was partnered by 2010 GP3 Series champion Esteban Gutiérrez. He starred in the first two rounds of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series, holding off Romain Grosjean for victory in the feature race and gaining fourth in the sprint race, but he was later penalised. He finished runner-up to Grosjean in the drivers’ championship. In the main series, Bianchi finished third in the championship, behind Grosjean and Luca Filippi.

Bianchi opted to switch to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for 2012, following his one-off appearance in the category in 2009. He signed for the Tech 1 Racing team, and was partnered with Kevin Korjus, and later with Daniel Abt.

In August 2009, Bianchi was linked by the BBC and various other media sources to the second Ferrari Formula One seat occupied by Luca Badoer during Felipe Massa’s absence. Bianchi tested for Ferrari at the young drivers test at Circuito de Jerez for two of the three days, over 1–2 December 2009. The other drivers tested on 3 December included Daniel Zampieri, Marco Zipoli and Pablo Sánchez López as the top three finishers in the 2009 Italian Formula Three Championship. Bianchi’s performance in this test led to him becoming the first recruit of the Ferrari Driver Academy and signing up to a long-term deal to remain at the team’s disposal.

On 11 November 2010 he was confirmed by Ferrari as the team’s test and reserve driver for the 2011 season, replacing Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gené, as well as confirming he would test for the team during the young driver test in Abu Dhabi over 16–17 November. Bianchi carried on his GP2 Series racing, as Formula 1 allows test and reserve drivers to race in parallel in other competitions. On 13 September 2011, Bianchi tested for Ferrari at Fiorano, as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, with fellow academy member and Sauber F1 driver Sergio Pérez. Bianchi completed 70 laps and recorded a quickest lap time of 1:00.213. For the 2012 season, Ferrari loaned him to the Sahara Force India team, for whom he drove in nine Friday free practice sessions over the course of the year as the outfit’s test and reserve driver.

On 1 March 2013, Marussia announced that Bianchi was to replace Luiz Razia as a race driver after Razia’s contract was terminated, due to sponsorship issues. Bianchi qualified 19th for the Australian Grand Prix, out-qualifying team-mate Max Chilton by three-quarters of a second. Bianchi overtook Pastor Maldonado, and Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap and he eventually finished 15th on his debut. He was 19th on the grid again in Malaysia, 0.3 seconds away from Q2. Bianchi fell behind the Caterhams at the start of the race, but moved up the order after the pit stops, eventually going on to finish 13th, ahead of his teammate, and both Caterhams. As of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Bianchi had beaten his teammate in all qualifying sessions and all races that both of them had finished. In the Japanese Grand Prix he and Charles Pic of Caterham were given ten-place grid penalties for receiving three reprimands over the season, and at the race, his race ended early after a collision with Giedo van der Garde.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/07-18-15f1weekly686.mp3]