Di Montezemolo: Bianchi was Ferrari's future
20 July 2015 – Former Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has paid tribute to the late Jules Bianchi, saying that the young Frenchman had been earmarked as a future driver for the Italian outfit.
Bianchi joined Ferrari's Driver Academy in 2009 and remained part of its system throughout his Formula 1 career, prior to his serious accident last year, which led to his death last week.
Di Montezemolo, who acted as Ferrari's President for several decades until 2014, said that an "exceptional" person had been lost.
"Jules was one of us, a member of the Ferrari family and he was the driver who we had picked for the future, once our collaboration with Kimi Räikkönen was to end," di Montezemolo told Sky Sport Italia.
"He was first-class, private, fast, polite, very attached to Ferrari and promising. A bitter fate has taken [him] away, leaving us with a huge void. We lost an exceptional guy, [who] we will remember with great affection."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari's Team Principal between 2008 and 2014, reflected on Bianchi's talent and dedication in his quest to progress to the top of the sport.
"Jules was always in Maranello, he came every day to the factory to grow and cultivate the dream of driving a Ferrari," he said.
"Our idea was that, after Marussia, he would go to another team to grow and then be ready for the big jump. This is what we had planned a few years ago. But unfortunately fate has it taken away.
"Jules was the first driver in which the Ferrari Academy invested. Jules was always smiling when I met him, always positive [and] extraordinarily confident.
"He was an amazing guy who created an intense relationship with everyone."