Jules Bianchi could yet emerge as the leading candidate to partner Paul di Resta at Force India next season, in a deal that could preclude the team's switch to Ferrari power in 2014.
Bianchi is just one of a growing list of drivers being linked to the vacant seat at Vijay Mallya's team, and appeared to have dropped behind the likes of Adrian Sutil and Bruno Senna in the pecking order, but Finland's Turun Sanomat
newspaper believes that his links to Maranello could yet stand him in good stead.
With new engine regulations coming into force at the end of next season, the report claims that a desired switch to Ferrari power – Force India is currently supplied by Mercedes – could see Bianchi become the favourite to partner di Resta, despite his comparative lack of experience when ranged against the likes of Sutil and Senna. The Frenchman has been a member of Ferrari's development squad for a couple of years, but loaned to Force India to act as its reserve behind di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg in 2012.
Although the year did not start too well for Bianchi, when he cost Hulkenberg an afternoon of testing after crashing during the first morning of pre-season action, he has been allowed to make several Friday morning practice runs at grands prix, and the 23-year old has generally given a good account of himself.
Hulkenberg's decision to move to Sauber for 2013 creates the vacancy Bianchi is hoping to fill, while suggestions that Senna may give up on his F1 dream to join Mercedes in the DTM is likely to remove one rival for the seat. Should Bianchi get the nod over former Force India favourite Sutil and former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, who also remains in the frame despite continually delaying an announcement about his future, he would be the third rookie on the grid next year, alongside Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas.
An announcement from Force India is expected before Christmas, according to the report.