Force India team principal Vijay Mallya says Jules Bianchi’s passing has deprived the world of “a true racer”.
Before making his 2013 Formula One debut with Marussia, the Frenchman served as Force India’s 2012 official reserve driver and made several FP1 appearances for the Silverstone-based outfit.
Bianchi came quite close to become a fully-fledged Force India driver after taking part in several winter testing sessions in 2013.
But the Nice-born racer eventually missed out to the returning Adrian Sutil.
“The thoughts of everyone at Sahara Force India are with the friends and family of Jules Bianchi at this terrible moment,” said Mallya in a team statement published on their Facebook page.
“We had the pleasure of working with Jules during 2012 [as the team's third driver] where he left a strong impression on everyone in the team.
“We came to know an outstanding young man and a tremendous talent who was destined for great things in Formula One.
“The world has lost a true racer and we have all lost a friend.”
Bianchi succumbed on Friday night to the severe head injuries he had sustained in a heavy accident during last year's Japanese Grand Prix.