Jules Bianchi has been named as the reserve driver for Force India for the 2012 season.

12796 - Bianchi named Force India reserve

Bianchi is part of the Ferrari Academy and has participated in a number of young driver tests for the team while competing in GP2 in recent seasons. The role at Force India will allow him more track time than Ferrari could offer, with the team announcing that he will take part in a minimum of nine Friday practice sessions throughout the season. Bianchi said that the regular appearances will help him develop as a driver.

"I'm obviously excited to join Sahara Force India and the chance to get track time during race weekends is an important step for me," Bianchi said. "Being regularly in a current car is the best way to learn quickly and I hope it will put me in a strong position to one day move into a race seat. The next few months will be really exciting as I get to know the team, see how they work, and prepare for my time in the car. I would like to thank everyone for believing in me and especially Sahara Force India for giving me this great opportunity."

Bianchi will get an opportunity to drive during pre-season testing too, and team principal Vijay Mallya said he expected him to make "a valuable contribution".

"I am delighted to welcome Jules into the Sahara Force India family," Mallya said. "We always keep an eye on young, talented drivers and his performance in GP2 certainly impressed us all. By giving Jules the opportunity to be part of our 2012 campaign, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to young drivers. We are proud of our track record in this regard and I have no doubt that Jules will quickly settle into the team and make a valuable contribution to our efforts on track this season."