Jules Bianchi said his first day as an F1 driver with Marussia was very special
Frenchman says he's "happy to be here" after positive start
By William Esler. Last Updated: 13/03/13 2:31pm
Jules Bianchi described his first day as a Formula 1 race driver as "very special" following a rollercoaster 48 hours for the Frenchman.
After Force India opted to rehire Adrian Sutil for their second seat on Thursday, Bianchi looked set to spend another year as reserve driver with the Silverstone-based team.
However, late on Friday evening the 23-year-old found himself sat in Marussia's MR02 having a seat fitting - after being announced as replacement for Luiz Razia, who ran into sponsorship issues.
"It is very special for me, I would like to thank Marussia, the French Federation and Ferrari," Bianchi said after impressing on his first day in his new team's car.
"I am just really happy, I did my best today to learn everything and be ready for Australia.
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"My first impressions are really positive, I felt really comfortable in the car which was good. Obviously we have some work to do but we know that and we will do our best to improve the car soon."
The Frenchman admitted he was downbeat after being overlooked at Force India, but said he never gave up on his aim of being on the grid in 2013.
"I am still young, I am only 23-years-old, obviously I was a bit down but I kept pushing and trying to get something and Marussia was a really good opportunity and I am really happy to be here," he added.
"This season I just want to try and get a lot of experience and try to do the best races that I can. I think this is normal for a driver and I will try to thank Marussia (for giving me the drive) by delivering good results."
Rather than heading into the season with two drivers with limited F1 experience, Marussia now find themselves with a driver who has tested for Ferrari and Force India and drove in nine practice sessions in 2012. That additional experience is something Bianchi hopes he can use to help move the team forward.
"It is useful for them because even as recently as last week I drove a Force India and last year I drove in practice," he said.
"I haven't done any races but I have some experience in Formula 1 so hopefully we can do a good job, even with two rookies."