Montezemolo: Bianchi was Ferrari’s future

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Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says Jules Bianchi had been “chosen” to eventually replace Kimi Raikkonen and drive for the Italian squad in the future.

Bianchi was a founding member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, having joined Maranello in late 2009. The Frenchman then became the revered outfit’s official test driver in 2011 and remained linked to Ferrari throughout his Formula One career.

“Jules Bianchi was one of us,” Montezemolo told Sky Sport Italia. “He belonged to the Ferrari family and we had chosen him for the future and after our collaboration with Raikkonen.

“He was a top guy, reserved, fast, educated and very attached to Ferrari. He had a bright future ahead of him.”

After hoisting his modest Marussia to a cracking ninth-place finish during the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, Bianchi impressed Ferrari further when he drove last year’s F14-T at the post-British Grand Prix test.

The 25-year-old was tipped to join customer team Sauber in 2015 before making the leap in 2016. But then came Suzuka, where Bianchi’s car veered off track in wet conditions and crashed into a recovery vehicle.

The Ferrari protégé spent nine months in a coma before succumbing to his severe head injuries on Friday night in his hometown of Nice.

“A fateful turn of events took him away and leaves us with a huge void,” added Montezemolo.

“I am close to Jules’ family, who have shown immense courage over the past months in such difficult times, as well as to all his friends at Ferrari. We’ve lost a super guy, whom everybody will remember with great affection.”

Jules Bianchi: 1989 - 2015

F1 drivers pay tribute to Bianchi after death at 25

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