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Young guns test day 1: Mercedes runs new exhaust as Magny-Cours ends F1 exile
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Sep 2012   |  6:36 pm GMT  |  65 comments

Magny-Cours reverberated to the sound of Formula 1 cars for the first time in four years today as the second leg of the fragmented 2012 young driver test got underway for Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India.

The circuit in the heart of France, which last hosted a grand prix in 2008 but continues to angle to stage a revived French GP in wake of improvements to infrastructure, was chosen by the three teams present as the venue for their permitted young guns running following concerns over the logistics of running the annual sessions in Abu Dhabi after the grand prix there in November given equipment would then have to be shipped to Texas for the following week’s US GP.

Although some leading teams, including Red Bull and McLaren, are sticking with the traditonal Yas Marina plan, three teams already held their permitted days of testing – Williams, Marussia and HRT – at Silverstone in July, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India now following suit at Magny-Cours.

With the test taking place before the crucial final seven flyaway rounds, the three days are also being used by the teams to try out some new development parts and Mercedes caught the eye on the opening day with the Brackley outfit unveiling an exhaust layout akin to the one  introduced by McLaren and Sauber among others at the start of the season to subsequent popular take-up.

The exhaust is cut into the side pods and is designed to channel the exhaust gas down towards the diffuser, as many teams have been doing this season. It helps with low speed downforce and Mercedes no doubt hope it will help them to improve rear tyre wear, which has been a weakness this year.

However, it was Ferrari who ended Tuesday’s action at the top of the timesheet with its academy driver Jules Bianchi behind the wheel, the Frenchman clocking a best time of 1m18.070s across 87 laps on his first day of running in the F2012. Ferrari were testing out a new higher downforce front wing, which is believed to be designed with Singapore in mind.

However, Bianchi’s first day in the car ended slightly prematurely when it stopped by the side of the track at Chateau D’Eau with just over 20 minutes of the session remaining with an as yet unexplained issue.

The 23-year-old, who has driven in seven Friday FP1 sessions for Force India during the season, will revert to the more familiar VJM05 for day two’s running before heading back over to Ferrari on Thursday.

Driving the Force India on the opening day was GP2 title contender Luiz Razia, the 23-year-old setting his best time of 1m18.535s inside the final hour to end up 0.465s adrift of Bianchi on his debut for the team.

Mercedes’ test driver Sam Bird took the wheel of the revamped W03 and, encouragingly for the team, completed the most laps of the trio – 95 – with his time of 1m19.094s putting him third on the timesheet.

“We’ve had a very productive first day of the test today and were able to complete everything that we had planned on our programme,” Bird said.

“It felt great to be back in the car again and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve driven at Magny Cours previously in a Formula 3 car and it was good to experience it today in a Formula 1 car. We’ve collected a lot of data today which will take some time to sift through this evening and I’m looking forward to another good day tomorrow.”

YOUNG GUNS TEST, Magny Cours – Day one

1. Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1m18.070s 87 laps
2. Luiz Razia Force India 1m18.535s 65 laps
3. Sam Bird Mercedes 1m19.094s 95 laps

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Conducting the Young Drivers Test at the Mangy Cours Circuit with only seven races to go in the World Championship and World Constructors Championship is a brilliant move by Ferrari, Mercedes, and Force India. Not only does it give them the opportunity to evaluate the young drivers, more importantly, it gives them the opportunity to evaluate new upgrades for the upcoming races. I’m not sure what new parts Force India is testing, but Ferrari is testing new front wings and Mercedes is testing a new exhaust system (similar to McLaren, Ferrari, and Sauber) and their new DDRS system (similar to Lotus).

This is Ferrari’s second in-season testing. Their first in-season test was conducted at the Mugello Circuit before the European leg of the races started. After that test, Ferrari brought a major upgrade to the Spanish Grand Prix.

After testing new parts at the Magny Cours Circuit, I expect Ferrari to bring a major upgrade to the Singapore Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso basically told us so in his post-race interview when he said that Ferrari will be bringing a lot of new parts to the Singapore Grand Prix. He also said that Ferrari plans on bringing new updates to every race after that.

With both Championships being so close, I don’t understand why McLaren, Red Bull, and Lotus are not testing at the Magny Cours Circuit this week. I know that testing at Abu Dhabi might give them a leg-up on the 2013 cars, but that can also be done in Barcelona at the pre-season testings. Not to mention the abundance of the work that the mechanics have to do for five consecutive weeks.

With the major upgrades that Ferrari plans on bringing to the Singapore Grand Prix, I expect Alonso to win the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix. It’s a circuit that he loves and he has won it two out of the first four years.


I wonder if McLaren are running in the middle east because they are 50% owned by the Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company. I’d imagine Abu Dhabi would be like a home race for them so they’d be doing heaps of promotional and sponsor events so by having the team spend an extra week there they can keep the event rolling on and do more business.


Great point. I totally forgot about that.


I heard Schumi’s at the circuit checking out Merc’s new upgrades. Hope it’s a sign he’s keen to stick around next year.


And the only current F1 driver trackside today and keeping an eye on things is …… none other than the retiree Michael Schumacher. Still very committed then.


Good article as always, but the sentence structure in some of the paragraphs makes it rather difficult to read.

The circuit in the heart of France, which last hosted a grand prix in 2008 but continues to angle to stage a revived French GP in wake of improvements to infrastructure, was chosen by the three teams present as the venue for their permitted young guns running following concerns over the logistics of running the annual sessions in Abu Dhabi after the grand prix there in November given equipment would then have to be shipped to Texas for the following week’s US GP.

That could easily be split up into 2 or 3 sentences, but by the time I was at the end I almost forgot what was at the start.



I believe that the DDRS will no longer be legal after this season, correct? I find it somewhat strange that in those times of resource restrictions Mercedes keeps investing a lot of time and money in a technology that will not go beyond the current season, also because 2012 already pretty much seems a write-off for Mercedes? Shouldn’t they rather focus on 2013 and 2014, if only to convince Lewis? Or are they doing this in the hope to give Michael a goodbye in style?


I can’t believe some people want Magny Cours back. It was a dull racetrack in the middle of nowhere. Some drivers might have liked it, but it didn’t create many if any great races.

I hope the temas testing there try out the DRS for overtaking. As Valencia has shown, even a horrible F1 track can make great races if the regulations allow it. Who knows, maybe Magny-Cours can generate great races with current generations, but I doubt it. However Hungarorng must go soon. It has always been a bore in the dry and it hardly ever rains. If you want M-C, swap it for that useless, boring, overgrown kart track.



Do you have any information on what upgrades Ferrari are bringing for Singapore and what are they testing here??


New front wing is the obvious thing


I am pretty sure that it is only one word in the exhaust regs that allows the current use of most of the systems. Change the “or” in the last para of 5.8.4 d) to “and” It would then be more difficult to connect the exhaust flow to the underfloor flow.

But as I have mentioned before the regs have been written from the wrong end and should actually outlaw an effect and not try and cover a multitude of ways of creating that effect.

The braking and suspension regs have been written this way and it allows the scrutineers much more control.


Apparently still not enough lawyers at the FIA – they missed that.

Its a simple fix, I’d think: just say the exhaust exit has to be the farthest point aft on the car. Oh, and has to point straight back, too. Thats pretty much the way production cars are regulated by the Gov.


Can we agree now the Ferrari is fast .No excuses left in that team now.


One race does not make a verdict. Ferrari was .80 off of Lewis Hamilton’ pole time by .80 second in Hungary and .80 off of Jenson Button’s pole time at Spa.

With Ferrari bringing a lot of new parts for the Singapore Grand Prix, why don’t we wait to see who is on pole?


Wake up Mate..I’m not saying its the quickest. Everyone Knows the Mclaren is quicker over a single lap-Especially in the hands of Lewis. But over many laps..In Monza & Spa both Fernando and Felipe were within a few hundredths even 000’s of Lewis and Jensons lap time. Fernando even said it after both races !

If a new driver can jump into a car and do 100+ laps and be 1 full second quicker than anyone, it gives you a reasonable indication of where that cars at.

Just sick of everyone complaining about this Ferrari being down and out !. Its a Top 2 car now on Most Circuits.!What do you want for the Ferrari to be 3 sec quicker than the whole field before you accept it. Unbelievable..Really Ridiculous !


@Matt….. Mclaren didn’t “give” Lewis a slower setup at SPA, Lewqis & the team TOGETHER made the gamble to run the setup they did in qualifying & TOGETHER they got it wrong. Not Mclaren’s fault, Not Jenson’s fault, only Lewis & his engineer’s fault….. Then when you consider that engineers rely on the driver for feedback, well really there was only one person to blame for that mess & i’m sorry to say it was Captain Tweet alot as much as he wants to blame everyone else every time something doesn’t go perfect for him.


Just because a driver doesn’t finish a race don’t mean he don’t attend a press conferences/ interviews- look em up!. 100+ laps by new drivers refers to this young drivers post – if you were switchnotice you would notice. I was talkin about Ferrari and you switch to Sauber, HRT and god knows what else.. Didnt even bother to read all the jibberish..

You must be under 21 cause you “retaliate” with the same words I used.. Another poster to ignore in future.


Wake-up mate! In-race laptimes don’t give you an idea of how quick(fast) an F1 car truly is. For example, McLaren and Ferrari were the fastest cars in the 2012 Italian Grand Prix, but Rosberg recorded the fastest times. While McLaren and Ferrari were on a one-pit strategy, both Mercedes were on a two-pits strategy.

Fresh tires and low fuel can have a huge impact on a car’s lap-time. I can give De la Rosa, in his HRT car, by piting him three laps before the end of the race and putting on the option tires.

I could be wrong about Rosberg having the fastest lap times. Maybe its rgio Perez, but it still proves my point. Perez started on the prime tires(hard at Monza) and because the Saubers are very gentle on their tires, he was able to get 30+ laps on them. When he pitted for the option tires, he was low on fuel.

He was able to lap more than a second a lap faster than both McLaren and Ferrari because they had pitted for the prime tires around lap 20. They already had 10+ laps on the prime tires when Perez switched over to the option tires. I don’t know about the McLaren, but Ferrari was experiencing a much higher tire degradation than expected.


“Fernando even said it after both races!”

Can you please copy and paste the article(s) where Fernando Alonso said this AFTER THE RACE because, thanks to Grosjean, Fernando never made it pass the first corner in Spa.

Jenson Button out-qualified both Fernando and Lewis by more than .80 second. Do you remember Lewis tweeting his telemetry because he was upset because McLaren gave him a different set-up than Button?

I have no idea where you’re getting this AFTER 100 LAPS idea, but at the post- race interview, Lewis said that he was basicly on cruise-control for the last 20 or so laps and Massa was still going slower than him.

Like most of the people on here, you don’t let the fact get in the way of your argument.


Just lol.


James, do they allow spectators to these days? The grandstands look empty.

It would be a great way for the teams and F1 to make extra money, and I’m sure plenty of people would love to go. I’d be there if I lived in Europe.


Yes! $10/day


Dear James,

Is it early days to talk about the new mercedes exhaust system? Any idea how it will translate into race performance?


SK Anand


James – is there any suggestion that the circuit owners are providing the teams with financial support in order to get credibility with the FIA/FOM for a future GP?


Just seen the race today the most blatant hometown refereeing decision I’ve ever seen in F1 giving Vettel that drive through if it wasn’t the leading Ferrari driver at Monza calling for a penalty it wouldnt have been given a second thought. Don’t get me wrong i love Alonso but he knows how to pull every advantage out of the bag.


It looks like Mercedes was dealing with tyres before and now it is time for the aero work, so maybe they would be ready to be in the front soon…


I’d love Magny Cours to get it’s race back, used to really look forward to the race there, hopefully they will one day.


Somewhat noteworthy is that, since 2003, the slowest fastest qualy time (if that makes sense) at Magny Cours was a 1:15.1 by Schumi in ’06 Qualy 2.

Alonso’s pole in 2004 was fastest with a 1:13.698 – with race fuel onboard no less.

Quite a difference.


But back in 2004 F1 were powered by V10 engines…


thanks for the stats. I miss the day of Magny-Cours on the schedule.



Does anyone know which of the two cars from each team they are using for the test? Also does anyone know if this comes out of the years allocation of engines or do they have separate engines for tests?


James, do you know what upgrades Ferrari will be testing?


They have new front and rear wing and new floor all for Singapore.


I’m surprised by all the amount of driver-swapping teams are allowing lately, with Perez having links to two teams and now Bianchi driving two actual up-to-date cars back to back. Aren’t teams concerned of any confidential information flowing in an undesired direction?



James, can you shed any light on this? It’s not as if Ferrari & FI have any obvious commercial relationship…


No, they pay for him to have that role


A lot of the junior teams have techncial agreements with the leading teams/manufacturers. Therefore I’d imagine there is some informal sharing of information in relation to engine tuning (eg Ferrari/Renault/Mereceds) or setup/aero (eg FI/McLaren).


I was thinking the same thing about Bianchi. Someone’s got to be forking out some money to someone to get him into both cars at the same time…Presumably Vijay is getting something to help pay off some debts?


James, two questions, first of all are Sauber, Torro Rosso, Caterham, and Lotus going to do the YDT in Abu Dhabi or at another track on a different date?

And are the teams allowed to offer anyone a drive for the YDT, what’s the line between young and old?

Also I’m interested in Force India’s driver lineup, I believe I read somewhere that Rodolfo Gonzalez is going to drive the car on Friday. I’m really surprised considering he races for Caterham Racing in GP2. Why would they let somebody so close to Caterham F1 drive their car especially after the legal battle the 2 teams had over sharing a wind tunnel?


Anyone who’s not tested at Silverstone or Magny Cours will do the Yas Marina test. But it’s brutal for the mechanics – between two back sets of to back races, that means five weeks without a break for the guys.


Lotus have plans to test something that might have been good at Spa?


And Suzuka, probably Yas Marina too.


Well this was nice to read! A full second separating Ferrari from Mercedes, interesting but also glad to see Bianchi top the list. I think he can have success when he gets a full time drive.


Do you remember Jean Eric-Verne impressive testing at the end of the 2011 season at Young Drivers Testing at Yes Marian Circuit? He was so impressed with himself that he thought that he should replace Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing. How impress are you with him now at Toro Rossi?

By the way, I think that Toro Rosso really hurt themselves by replacing two really good drivers with two ok drivers. Look for Jaime Alguersuari to show his true talent in a Williams or Sauber next season.


I sincerely hope that this track never makes it back on to the calendar.

I know some are upset about the number of races left in Europe, but dumping Paul Ricard was one of Bernie’s brilliant moves (signing Valencia and extending the Hungaroring, on the other hand…)


That should have read: “dumping Magny-Cours”

I have no beef with Paul Ricard (except the sprinkler installation, Bernie would want to turns those on during a race!)


Ironically Paul Ricard is now designed as a test circuit, in fact the sprinklers could be ideal for testing of wet set-ups. It has full facilities except for grandstands. Bernie was keen to re-instate it as a French GP venue, but lots of money was needed to accommodate an audience.

Since the change of government in France, Bernie’s efforts have been sidelined.


I may well be wrong but think it is owned jointly by Mrs E the second’s (Slavica’s) part of Bambino and one of Bernie’s other trusts.


Love Magny Cours. Great circuit but useless location. Such a shame


Are these the same engines used during the season or can the teams bring additional ones?


They get test engines. Not included in the allocation of 8


Always want to know! It makes sence


yeah it does make senSe 🙂

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