Ferrari signs Bianchi long-term

Ferrari has signed a long-term contract with French Formula 3 Euros series driver Jules Bianchi. While it is unclear as to how long the contract is, it seems the Frenchman, managed by Nicola Todt, is pleased with the outcome telling Autosport:

“We are very happy to do this long-term deal, which was completed a short time ago,” Bianchi’s manager Nicolas Todt told AUTOSPORT.

“His role is undefined for the moment, but from now on, he will be at Ferrari’s disposal. His first Ferrari drive is obviously at this young driver test.”

Ferrari is yet to announce its test and reserve driver for 2010, although it has Giancarlo Fisichella, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene under contract in addition to its race drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

“I am more than happy,” said Bianchi, whose race programme next year will be in the GP2 Series with multiple champion team ART. “It is very difficult to explain how I feel, but it is something very special.

“I know this is the first step on a journey that could turn out very nicely, but I’m equally aware that there is still a long way to go to Formula 1.”

Bianchi Ferrari

Bianchi is testing for Ferrari this week at Jerez and has apparently made an impression. The interesting thing is just what he will be doing for Ferrari. With a test driver lineup of Fisichella, Badoer, Gene and Bianchi, one has to wonder what exactly Ferrari are doing as there is no in-season testing. The role of the test driver has been neutered since the beginning of 2009.

If ou look at Ferrari’s history, they generally haven’t been strong players in the driver development market. They tend to let other teams do all the development procedures, pay for damaged cars and learn the hard lessons and then lure the driver to Ferrari with their reputation and prestige. They tend to focused on the car and buy the top drivers.

But in the quite light of morning, perhaps Ferrari understand that there may be an opening. Perhaps 2009 taught them that Badoer, Fisicehlla and Gene are not an option for them as a stand-in driver or that all three are getting older. One has to assume their eye is on Sebastian Vettel but perhaps they see something in Bianchi that makes sense. It’s an odd move to be sure but Ferrari rarely do much that doesn’t make sense for the team.

Perhaps Bianchi is an option for current driver Felipe Massa’s seat at the end of his contract? Fisichella, Badoer nor Gene would be a stop gap measure to hold the seat until they could get Vettel 2012. Maybe they are going to reduce their testing driver stable and want a younger development driver who they can build on. Either way, it’s a bit odd.

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