Jules Bianchi won the F3 Euroseries title in Dijon and has been promoted to GP2 by his team ART, the same outfit that sent Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and – probably – Nico Hulkenberg into Formula One.
The Frenchman missed the chance to wrap up the title in the first of the weekend’s two races when an error behind the safety car handed the win to his only realistic challenger, Christian Vietoris. But an impressive victory in the second race from seventh on the grid secured the championship.
The combination of an F3 championship and an impressive GP2 test in Jerez secured his promotion, ART boss Frederic Vasseur saying: “Jules showed that he has all the necessary qualities to succeed in the higher levels of motorsport – it is only logical that we put our trust in him to defend the colours of ART in GP2.”
The first race of the weekend was shaken up by an early safety car – Bianchi fluffed the re-start, catching the safety car before it was back in the pits. His sudden braking forced the next three cars to take evasive action and allowed Vietoris to sweep through into the lead.
British team-mates Sam Bird and Alexander Sims both put in battling performances, the former snatching sixth from Christopher Zanella and the latter doggedly defending eighth place.
This finishing position gave Sims pole for the second race but he was unable to convert it into a podium, finishing fifth to Bianchi, Bird, Roberto Merhi and Esteban Gutierrez.
Merhi emerged unscathed after triggering a first-lap crash that knocked out six cars and left Mika Maki rolling on the ground in pain, suffering from a bruised pelvis. Bianchi used the chaos to move up to third, passing the two British front-runners on the way.
With the championship winner and runner-up now settled, and two races left to run on October 24th and 25th at Hockenheim, Bianchi has 102 points to Vietoris’ 75. Sims and Valtteri Bottas are tied on 51, with the Brit holding third thanks to his Nurburgring win. Sims is fifth on 39, ahead of Maki and Merhi on 37 and 35.
Peter Mucke, team boss for Bird, Sims and Vietoris, said: “Christian’s overtaking manoeuvre on Saturday was fantastic. After the re-start, he went to the outer side of the track, overtook four cars in one go and took over the lead. On Sunday, Alex and Sam were leading after the re-start but remained careful during the yellow phase. As a result, Bianchi went into their slipstream and finally overtook.”