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Jules Bianchi has secured a seat at Marussia for the 2013 Formula 1 campaign, with the cash-strapped Luiz Razia no longer able to fund his place on the grid. The Frenchman, who was beaten to the Force India vacancy by Adrian Sutil earlier this week, will line-up alongside Max Chilton at the Banbury-based team.
The deal follows the termination of Razia's race contract with Marussia, a decision that was made on Friday afternoon. Having run into financial issues at last week's Barcelona test, the Brazilian was forced to sit on the sidelines while he worked towards a solution. However, a positive outcome did not arrive for the 23-year-old and the team was forced to look elsewhere in order to ensure its financial stability.
Heikki Kovalainen and Narain Karthikeyan were both mentioned as potential replacements for Razia, but Bianchi's management ultimately finalised an agreement. Although his hopes looked dashed when he missed out on the Force India drive, the Ferrari protege will make his Formula 1 debut in Melbourne in a fortnight's time.
"I am thrilled to have secured a race seat with the Marussia F1 Team," explained Bianchi. "Racing in Formula 1 this season has been my goal over the winter and after evaluating a number of options I am very excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate that I am ready for this next step in my career.
"I am also very grateful to the Ferrari Driver Academy that has always supported me and has given me the possibility to mature as a racing driver enabling me to be fully prepared for this new exciting challenge. The next two weeks of preparation for the season will be incredibly busy but I am ready to get started tomorrow with my first day in the MR02."
In order to get to grips with Marussia's new contender, Bianchi will drive on the remaining two days of this week's test at the Circuit de Catalunya. The 23-year-old, who took part in numerous practice sessions as Force India's reserve driver in 2012, graduates to the sport after finishing runner-up in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
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