Exclusive: Jules Bianchi Q&A
Sky F1 catches up with the man impressing in his rookie season
By Mike Wise and William Esler
Last Updated: 12/04/13 7:22am
How did the drive come about?
Jules Bianchi: "On the Wednesday, Force India said they were going to take Adrian Sutil and on Friday, just two days later, I was announced at Marussia, so it was all really quick. I didn't expect that, so it was a big surprise and I am really pleased. On the Wednesday I was really down, so it was a big difference and in the end, the good news is I am in F1."
You were impressive in Australia and Malaysia - was that a surprise given you only had a day and a half in the car?
JB: "Obviously it has surprised me as we didn't get to prepare much for the season, but I was used to driving in Formula 1 because I did all last year with Force India [as reserve driver] and I tested in Jerez and Barcelona with Force India too. So it was not something new for me, even if I am a rookie and I still need to learn a lot, but the experience I have has helped me a lot."
You've had to get to know your new team very quickly. How has that been? Has it been an easy learning process with Marussia?
JB: "It has been really good, really easy because Marussia is like a small family. I feel really comfortable with the team after two races - even after one day of testing in Barcelona I was feeling really good. It is an easy team to work with and to be with.
The car looks good, how is it to drive?
JB: "It feels good - I was really surprised when I tried the car in Barcelona. I didn't know what to expect, but I had seen the lap times of Max [Chilton] from the day before. I was confident when I got in and when I drove it I was really happy and had a really good feeling with the car."
What teams are in Marussia's sights this year?
JB: "For sure we are a lot closer now [to the midfield] than the team was last year, but all the teams are working hard and we need to bring a big step forward and every time we bring something to the track, it has to be a good part which gives you an advantage. We will see, but our target is to be closer and closer to the midfield and if we can beat them as a team, we will."
Are points possible this season?
JB: "We have to be realistic. I think it will be difficult as we are still missing some performance, but if we can do it, we will and our target will be to score our first point this year for sure."
Do you have any personal goals in 2013?
JB: "First of all I will try to finish every race - I know it will be something really difficult, so I will focus on that and try to gain more experience by finishing every race I can."
Are you confident you can maintain your early season form?
JB: "I am trying to do my best, but you never know what will happen. Every sport is the same - one day you are on the top, the next you are on the bottom. So you just have to work as much as you can all the time and don't think you have already arrived. For sure I will try to keep my level as it is now and even improve as I need to improve for sure."
Are you aware that you performances may be noticed higher up the pitlane at some of the bigger teams? Has Stefano Domenicali spoken to you after the last two races?
JB: "I am still speaking to Ferrari as I am still part of their Driver Academy, so for sure they look at what I am doing. But, I don't want to put any extra pressure - I am with Marussia now, I want to do a good job for them and then we will see what happens."
Do you see Ferrari as a long-term goal?
JB: "It is something we have in mind because I already have a contract with them in the Academy, so we want for sure to do something in the future. But, it is too early to know about that. We have done only two races, we still have 17 races to do and we will see what happens.
"I need to stay at this level first of all and improve. We will see next year what happens, but I would be pleased to stay with Marussia next year again."
If you did stay with Marussia next year and had a really good season, do you feel you could make that jump to Ferrari?
JB: "Yes, I think every driver when you are in Formula 1, you are one of the best drivers in the world, so you can jump into a top team like Ferrari. I think you just need more experience when you are a young driver, but then when you are doing good races, you show people you deserve to have that opportunity."
How do you think Ferrari will do this season?
JB: "I think they can do well because the car looks a lot more competitive than it was last year and last year they finished as runner up in the World Championship. I think it is possible for them to have a good season."
What is your opinion on the 2013 tyres? Do you think managing tyres is an important skill for the drivers or do you think Formula 1 drivers should be allowed to push all the time as much as they can?
JB: "There are different points of view, but I think what Pirelli wanted was to have a tyre that would have much more degradation on track. That is something they wanted to do and they achieved that. From my point of view it is not a bad thing, but it would also be a good thing to push a bit more in the race. But, it is not my decision, I just drive with what I have and I do my best with this."