Jules Bianchi epitomises a famous Michael Jackson number from the nineties, “Gone too soon!” The lyrics sung beautifully by the ‘King of Pop,’ stated, “Like a comet from the blazing evening sky, gone too soon!” Had Jules Bianchi been around today, not only would Charles Leclerc have been a happier man, not that driving for his dream outfit has not made the Monegasque happy, but an entire contingent who liked the young driver would have been all smiles. To this day, the likes of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, two drivers from the current grid who partied hard with the earnest man with that charismatic smile talk of Jules Bianchi’s innocence.
But make no mistake; behind the happy face was steely resolve, which would come to the fore the moment the five red lights would go green and all drivers on the grid would bring their visors down.
And it was on this very date, July 10 in 2014, when Jules Bianchi, who was a famous product of the Ferrari driver academy, achieved something sterling albeit also underrated for the Maranello-based outfit itself.
So this brings us to the question- what was it and what is that feat that, so many years hence, is still recounted?
As a matter of fact, it was at Silverstone, where in the final Testing session for the upcoming Grand Prix that Jules Bianchi, who had in that season been with Marussia (powered by Ferrari) stepped into Kimi Raikkonen’s car.
The driver who, everyone stated, would be part of Ferrari’s future also instantly offered a glimpse of why they hadn’t counted on him wrong and were so on point.
In the final session of testing at Silverstone, which it ought to be reminded, is among the fastest tracks on the calendar, Jules Bianchi stormed to the top of the timesheets in Kimi Raikkonen‘s Ferrari. What was rather impressive was the fact that the Ferrari F14T, which had been among the most insipid machines ever since the start of the turbo-era did little to dissuade the capability and technique of Jules Bianchi, who stepped in as if he was there to deliver- not struggle with the car.
What was brilliant was the fact that Jules drove around the historic albeit twisty track, steeped in the sport’s glorious history clocking an impressive 1:35.2.
This was, it ought to be reminded, a rather blistering run in a car that gave even the great Kimi Raikkonen a run for his money, in 2014. Remember, the Iceman scored just 55 points, including a best-place finish of P4 at Spa-Francorchamps, while his teammate, currently with Alpine, Fernando Alonso collected 161 points driving the very same car.
Quoting a popular F1 journal from 2014, that analysed Jules Bianchi’s sterling run in the Scuderia amid balmy English weather, it’s worthwhile to note the following:
Bianchi, who ran for Marussia on Tuesday, jumped to the top of the timesheets with around an hour to go, outpacing Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat by just under three-tenths of a second.
Kevin Magnussen was third fastest, just half-a-tenth behind Kvyat, with Sauber reserve driver Giedo van der Garde setting the fourth-best time before going off and bringing the test to a premature end with 20 minutes remaining because of the need to repair the barriers.
Later that year, Bianchi would open his account in Formula 1, scoring a brave P9 at the difficult Monaco Grand Prix, thus also helping his Marussia team to score its first points that season.
Drivers there’ll always be many, but none can bring the charisma and undulating love that Jules Bianchi commanded given all his talent and the penchant to remain a humble, focused person.