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Marussia select Bianchi as new driver

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Associated Press
3/1/2013 9:34:53 PM
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BARCELONA, Spain -- One day after thinking his dream to race in Formula One would have to wait at least another year, Jules Bianchi was hired as Marussia's second race driver Friday after the Russian team rescinded its contract with Luiz Razia.

Just the day before, Bianchi was in the running for a spot with Force India until it chose former driver Adrian Sutil instead.

Marussia selected the 23-year-old French pilot to join Max Chilton as the team's drivers for the upcoming season.

"Jules is a proven talent who is highly regarded within the paddock. He has been on a clear trajectory toward Formula One and has achieved some impressive performances through the various feeder formulae," team principal John Booth said.

Marussia had signed Razia to take over for Timo Glock last month.

Razia, also a newcomer to F1, drove for Marussia in the first set of preseason tests in Jerez, but he did not take the wheel at either test in Barcelona.

Razia's seat was reportedly conditioned on sponsorship deals for the team that never materialized.

"We have found ourselves in a situation where we have had to terminate our contract with Luiz Razia," Booth said. "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 will get two days of preseason testing at Barcelona's Catalunya Circuit before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

Bianchi was Force India's reserve driver last season after being part of Ferrari's driver academy and racing in the GP2 series the previous two years. He is the nephew of former F1 driver Lucien Bianchi.

"I am thrilled to have secured a race seat with the Marussia 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."

Marussia, formerly Virgin Racing, didn't score a point last season.

Marussia Virgin Racing (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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