Mid-Season Review: Jules Bianchi

As if Jules Bianchi’s first season was not impressive enough, the Frenchman has grabbed even more headlines so far this season. His performance at the Monaco Grand Prix deserved the acclaim it received, as he bagged Marussia’s first points in Formula One with a superb drive to P9. While circumstances may have played to Jules’ advantage, he has built upon this performance and captured the attention of Ferrari. After all, he did knock Kimi Raikkonen out of qualifying at the Q1 stage in Hungary. Is he ready to make the jump to the big time, or can Marussia hold onto their budding superstar for another season? Here is my review of Jules Bianchi’s season so far, on his birthday of all days.

Season So Far…

Australian Grand Prix
Not Classified
Malaysian Grand Prix
Retired
Bahrain Grand Prix
16th
Chinese Grand Prix
17th
Spanish Grand Prix
18th
Monaco Grand Prix
9th
Canadian Grand Prix
Retired
Austrian Grand Prix
15th
British Grand Prix
14th
German Grand Prix
15th
Hungarian Grand Prix
15th

Mission Accomplished

It is rare for a team to have accomplished their fundamental goal for the season by the sixth race, but for Marussia, scoring their first points at Monaco was somewhat of a watershed moment. It validated their efforts over the past five years and so it is unsurprising that Jules Bianchi has developed hero status within the team. His drive in Monaco was immense. Ok, so events did conspire in his favor, but while Perez, Sutil and Gutierrez fell foul of the ever-present barriers, Bianchi kept his cool in what must have been the most stressful of circumstances. To add to the pressure, he had to contend with a five second penalty which would be added onto his race time, as a result of the start-line confusion. Jules must have similar attributes to a sponge – soaking up pressure in a relentless fashion. To continue this metaphor, he doesn’t seem to get saturated either!

One Eye On Maranello

Bianchi must have had one eye on Maranello for a while now. It is the natural progression in his career after being a Ferrari Academy driver for several years. He has completed numerous tests behind the wheel of Ferrari cars since 2012, with performances in the 2012 Young Drivers Test and the recent test at Silverstone, (where is deputised for an injured Raikkonen) proving impressive. It is suspected that his presence at the team secured the Ferrari powerunit for this season.
Talk of a potential move to Ferrari has been rife pretty much as soon as Jules took to the track in the Marussia last season. However, it was assumed that when Kimi signed a two year contract with Ferrari, the Frenchman would have to wait until 2016 to even be in with a chance of grabbing the illustrious seat, but due to the Iceman’s lackluster performance so far this season, speculation in regards to whether Jules could be fast-tracked to Ferrari has now surfaced. It seems unlikely, but Bianchi’s performances have certainly warranted careful consideration by the team. When Jules knocked Kimi out of Qualifying at the Q1 stage in Hungary, this brought these rumors into focus. While track evolution and a dire strategic call aided the Frenchman in this instance, his lap was still sublime. 

As For The Rating…

Jules Bianchi’s 2014 campaign so far warrants 9/10 

Bianchi’s season has been near faultless. For a driver in only his second season, his consistency has been remarkable and his ability to perform under the most extraordinary pressures has been (dare I say it) of the caliber shown by the likes of Fernando Alonso. It is difficult to suggest that a driver is the real deal when they are usually scrapping for the final few places, and perhaps this is why we have not seen Marussia or Caterham drivers in the past ascend to more sought-after race seats. This in fact highlights just how good Bianchi is.   
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