Force India has confirmed reports it has chosen Ferrari reserve driver Jules Bianchi to replace Nico Hulkenberg in 2012.
German Hulkenberg, the official reserve and ‘Friday’ practice driver last year, has moved into a race seat with the Silverstone based team. Frenchman Bianchi, a GP2 driver last year, will now sit on the sidelines at Force India in 2012.
Like Sergio Perez, the 22-year-old is a Ferrari development driver, handled by Felipe Massa’s manager Nicolas Todt.
“For sure we want to invest (in Bianchi) because we believe in him,” Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said late last season.
Force India said on Friday Bianchi, to make his test debut with the team next month, will also practice “in a minimum of nine Friday practice sessions” this season.
“I hope it (the new role) will put me in a strong position to one day move into a race seat,” he said.
Bianchi, along with Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and his 2012 successor Davide Rigon, is currently attending a Ferrari fitness camp in the Canary islands.
“Jules will still be part of the Ferrari driver academy,” confirmed the Maranello based team.
Ferrari added that Italian GP2 driver Rigon, 25, “has recently extended his relationship” with the team. He “will be on call for all racing and promotional activities also for the 2012 and 2013 seasons”, said Ferrari.