Bianchi: When Ferrari need me I am ready

Jules Bianchi was on duty for Ferrari during Silverstone testing

Jules Bianchi was on duty for Ferrari during Silverstone testing

Marussia regular driver Jules Bianchi staked a claim on a Ferrari race seat after setting the pace on the final day of post-British Grand Prix testing at Silverstone.

Drafted in by Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn’s high-speed crash last Sunday, Frenchman and Marussia driver Bianchi looked as impressive as Fernando Alonso had been in practice last weekend in the same Formula 14-T car.

Moreover, Bianchi’s 1:35.262 laptime was more than a second faster than Raikkonen – who has notably struggled in 2014 – had managed in Silverstone practice.

Although clearly part of Ferrari’s future plans having graduated through the FDA (Ferrari Driver Academy), the 24-year-old played down the significance of his Silverstone speed, insisting politely that differing wind conditions between the race weekend and the test played a significant role.

TEST GRAN BRETAGNA F1/2014

Jules Bianchi ended day two at the Silverstone test fastest of all

He told media after his day in the cockpit of the F14T, “[The Ferrari] obviously has more downforce here, this we know already. So it is better in the high-speed corners. We cannot really compare because it’s a bit of a different day, the wind was a bit different today, we didn’t really use the same tyres, the same fuel loads, so it is difficult to compare. But what I could feel is that the downforce was higher.”

“I think I have shown the team that I can work well, that I can be quick, but it was a day of testing so it was not the target to compare me with other drivers – the target was to improve the car and try to help the team. I think I’ve done my job for that – I’m really pleased.”

Nonetheless, Raikkonen is firmly under contract for 2015, and Bianchi acknowledged that a race seat with the Maranello team, he said of a future with the Reds,  “At the moment I know that it’s not the plan for the next year, because they have a plan for the other drivers.”

TEST GRAN BRETAGNA F1/2014

Jules Bianchi in the cockpit of the F14T

“I know it’s not yet time, but I am working to show the team that I am ready for it. Now I will be focusing again on my season with Marussia. So far, it’s been a positive year, but there are still a lot of races to go and I’d like to get some more good results.”

“I think we’ve shown when we have the opportunity that we can do a good job so it’s really important for me to keep going like this. Then one day if they want me, I will be ready,” declared the Frenchman who scored Marussia’s first ever points, with ninth place in Monaco, earlier in the season.

His performance on the tricky Monte Carlo streets prompted Fernando Alonso to predict, “I have no doubt it will be a good career.”

Marussia boss Jonathan Booth has also been impressed, and told Reuters recently, “I think he’s ready to go now. If they (Ferrari) need him, I think he’s ready to go. I think he’s got a long career in F1. Absolute top driver.” (GP247-GMM)