Luiz Razia’s Formula 1 career has come to an end before it even began. It appears that the Brazilian’s sponsored failed to deliver the money that they had promised and that meant that Marussia decided to go down another route and signed up Ferrari protege Jules Bianchi, who was left out of the F1 field when Force India decided to go with Adrian Sutil. Bianchi will be the fourth Frenchman in F1 this year.
“Jules is a proven talent who is highly regarded within the paddock. He has been on a clear trajectory towards Formula 1 and has achieved some impressive performances through the various feeder formulae, notably his 2012 season in Formula Renault 3.5 when he was also Reserve Driver for Force India. He is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and his obvious pedigree put him on the radar for a number of teams over the winter as a driver ready to step up to Formula 1. We have found ourselves in a situation where we have had to terminate our contract with Luiz Razia. 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 (23) comes from a famous racing family. His great-grandfather was a mechanic with the Alfa Romeo factory team in the 1930s before moving to Belgium to work with band leader-turned-racer Johnny Claes. Bianchi’s two sons were deemed to be Belgian as a result and both Lucien and Mauro raced at a high level. Lucien’s first event being on the Alpine Rally in 1951 when he was just 17 years old. Money was always a problem but Bianchi worked himself into a position to be competitive in sports car events, notably the Tour de France which he won in 1957 with Olivier Gendebien. He followed up with further wins in 1958 and 1959. He won the Paris 1000 at Montlhery several times as well and in 1960 decided to try his hand at Formula 1 with an out of date Cooper and then moved on to join the Emeryson chassis which were being run by the Ecurie Nationale Belge. After that experience he went back to touring cars, sportscars and became a regular in rallying as well and enjoyed success in all disciplines. He won the 1961 Liege-Sofia-Liege for Citroen and later led the London-Sydney Marathon before being forced out when his Citroen was in collision with a non-competing car. He won a third victory in the Paris 1000 in 1961 and amongst his other wins were the Nurburgring 500 and the Watkins Glen Six Hours. He won the Sebring 12 Hours in 1962 at the wheel of a Ferrari which he shared with Jo Bonnier and then in 1968 went back to Formula 1 as a member of the Cooper-BRM team. That same year his brother Mauro (Jules’s grandfather) was seriously injured in a fiery accident at Le Mans which ended his career and left him badly scarred. Lucien however won the race as a member of the Gulf-sponsored JWA team and took his Ford GT40 to victory with Pedro Rodriguez. He then joined the Alfa Romeo sportscar team. Early in 1969 he was testing for Le Mans when he suffered a mechanical failure on the Mulsanne Straight and the car went out of control and hit a telegraph pole and he was killed instantly.