Sahara Force India has announced the signing of Jules Bianchi as test and reserve driver for the 2012 F1 season.
The 22-year-old will take part in Friday practice at a minimum of nine race weekends over the course of the season and will get the chance to sample the new VJM05 during pre-season testing in Spain next month.
“I am delighted to welcome Jules into the Sahara Force India family,” team principal Vijay Mallya said. “We always keep an eye on young, talented drivers and his performance in GP2 certainly impressed us all. By giving Jules the opportunity to be part of our 2012 campaign, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to young drivers.
“We are proud of our track record in this regard and I have no doubt that Jules will quickly settle into the team and make a valuable contribution to our efforts on track this season.”
Bianchi, a member of Ferrari's Young Driver Programme, welcomed news of the deal.
“I'm obviously excited to join Sahara Force India and the chance to get track time during race weekends is an important step for me,” he said. “Being regularly in a current car is the best way to learn quickly and I hope it will put me in a strong position to one day move into a race seat.
“The next few months will be really exciting as I get to know the team, see how they work, and prepare for my time in the car. I would like to thank everyone for believing in me and especially Sahara Force India for giving me this great opportunity.”