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Bianchi replaces Razia at Marussia

ESPN Staff
March 1, 2013 « Live F1 testing from Barcelona | Mercedes will develop better - Rosberg »
Jules Bianchi in the cockpit of the Marussia as he prepares for his first outing since being confirmed as the team's second driver © Twitter
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Jules Bianchi has been handed a race seat at Marussia after the team terminated Luiz Razia's contract.

Razia was only named one of Marussia's drivers at the opening pre-season test at Jerez, but after completing two days of running he didn't appear for the team at the second test in Barcelona last week amid rumours of issues with his funding. It appears those issues have not been resolved and the team has now turned to Bianchi, who this week lost out on a drive with Force India.

"We're pleased to announce that we've appointed Jules Bianchi to a race seat," the team announced on Twitter. "This follows the termination of our contract with Luiz Razia."

Bianchi will drive for Marussia on Saturday in Barcelona and said he was "thrilled" to be given the opportunity.

"I am thrilled to have secured a race seat with the Marussia F1 Team," Bianchi said. "Racing in Formula 1 this season has been my goal over the winter and after evaluating a number of options I am very excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate that I am ready for this next step in my racing career.

"I am also very grateful to the Ferrari Driver Academy that has always supported me and has given me the possibility to mature as a racing driver enabling me to be fully prepared for this new exciting challenge. The next two weeks of preparation for the season will be incredibly busy but I am ready to get started tomorrow with my first day in the MR02."

Marussia team principal John Booth said the decision to replace Razia was taken in order for the team to secure its long-term future.

"We are very pleased to welcome Jules Bianchi to the Marussia F1 Team," he said. "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.

"We can now focus on the remainder of the testing programme and preparing for what looks to be a promising season for our Team. Jules can now look forward to a very swift initiation into the Team over the course of the next two days here in Barcelona, when he is expected to run for one and a half days to afford both our drivers some dry running with the latest aero specification."