Jules Bianchi continued to lead the way for the young drivers in action at Magny-Cours on day two of the test, although it was the appearance of a driver at the other end of the age spectrum that caught the attention today.
With Mercedes using the test to try out some key developments for the remainder of the season – namely Coanda-style exhaust and passive double DRS system – Michael Schumacher arrived in the paddock in the morning to assess the upgrades first hand and speak to the team’s test driver Sam Bird, who remained in the W03 for the second day of running.
Assessing the performance of the car at the end of the day, Bird said: “We’ve had a second very positive day at the test and successfully completed our planned schedule, including the evaluation of the performance items that we wanted to achieve.
“We’re happy with the results that we’ve seen so far and there is a lot of information to go through to hopefully help improve the car. It was a great experience to be back behind the wheel of a Formula One car this week, and to help with the development programme, and I would like to thank the team for giving me this opportunity.”
Bird, who completed 125 laps in a best time of 1m17.482s, finished second on the times to Bianchi, who was back in the Force India having set the pace on the opening day for Ferrari. As is usually the case on the second day of a test, the best times came down considering with Bianchi improving by 1.5s in the Force India with a best lap of 1m16.467 by the end of the morning session. He went on to clock up a mammoth 117 laps in total himself on a day of generaly cool conditions in Nevers.
Bianchi will move back along the pit lane to Ferrari for the final day taking the F2012 over from Italian Davide Rigon who got his first taste of contemporary F1 machinery outside of a simulator more than a year on from his nasty accident in GP2 in Turkey.
Ferrari had assessed a new higher-downforce front wing on Tuesday and, after an electronics glitch slightly curtailed running then, Rigon and the car ran reliably on day two to notch up an impressive 165 laps in a fastest time of 1m17.925s, set during the afternoon.
All three teams will run with different drivers on the final day with Rodolfo Gonzalez taking over the Force India with New Zealand’s former Red Bull youngster Brendon Hartley to make his return to F1 testing duties with Mercedes.
YOUNG GUNS TEST, Magny-Cours – Day two
1. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m16.467s
2. Sam Bird Mercedes 1m17.482s
3. Davide Rigon Ferrari 1m17.925s