After being overlooked for the second Force India seat, Jules Bianchi seemed destined for another season on the F1 sidelines before securing a late deal with Marussia.
The 23-year-old Frenchman narrowly missed out on the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 title to Robin Frijns after a controversial end to the Championship - but three wins and five podiums during the course of the season underlined his pace.
Having graduated from karting in 2007, Bianchi immediately won his national Formula Renault title, before graduating the Formula 3 Euroseries with ART the following season.
He finished third in the standings that year and also took victory in the prestigious Masters of Formula 3 at Zolder.
Bianchi dominated F3 in 2009, taking nine victories from 20 starts, winning the title by 39 points and scoring more the combined totals of fellow 2013 F1 rookies Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez.
His performances didn't go unnoticed during the season and the Frenchman was linked with a Ferrari race seat after Felipe Massa's accident at the Hungaroring. A drive never came to fruition, but he tested for the Scuderia at Jerez that winter as was duly signed to their young driver academy.
2010 saw a move to GP2 for Bianchi with ART and he finished third in the standings during his two years in the series, taking one win and 10 podiums. 2011 also saw Bianchi named reserve driver at Ferrari, replacing Giancarlo Fisichella.
Bianchi moved to the World Series by Renault in 2012 and combined that with the role of test driver at Force India - which saw him take part in nine practice sessions throughout the season. The Frenchman also tested for both Force India and Ferrari at the Magny-Cours Young Driver last September.
Following Nico Hulkenberg's decision to join Sauber for 2013, Bianchi was widely expected to step up a race seat with Force India, but the team opted to bring in former driver Adrian Sutil, with the Frenchman remaining as the reserve driver.
However, when Luiz Razia ran into financial difficulties at Marussia, a deal was quickly agreed with Bianchi - leading to a late night seat fighting in the Barcelona paddock at the final pre-season test.