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Young guns test day 2: High mileage all round as Schumacher comes to town
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Sep 2012   |  6:58 pm GMT  |  24 comments

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

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Yeah, Michael should continue with Merc. He’s still got it and it seems that Merc is really pushing for it to. I would like to see the end to that story.

All is depending on wether Merc signs the Concorde Agreement or not. If they do, soon after we will know more about the driver line-up for 2013 and beyond.


People tend to forget how incredibly dedicated MS has always been. In the first leg of his now legendary career, after his last race in Brazil 2006 him and his engineers did what they have always done after each race. Huddled behind the shutters, and poured,analyzed every bit of the data. Schumacher did this despite knowing all to well that the data would be of no use for him as he was well on his way walking into the sunset.

I’d hate to see the old man go, but i think he’ll hang up his helmet for good after this season. The points haul in the last 2 seasons may not say an awful lot about his illustrious career,but he did give the spectators some amazing entertaining drives.

Val from montreal

Zombie , if you read this , MSC is not retiring anytime soon … He will be racing for atleast 2 more years …. Trust me on this one !! ……… Go michael !!


I simply don’t see Michael retirng yet, there’s a few wins left in him with a decent car and he’ll stick around for one more season.


I may be flowing against the stream here, but I believe that Schumacher will stay for another year. He will want to go out under his own terms, as a winner. Plus there is now a substantial back office team of proven winners at Mercedes, (Some pretty big names) and it is a “works team”, not a customer team.

These last two races, Spa & Monza, is the first time, I have really seen Schumacher go racing, been passed and doing the passing. His race craft is still there, and it seem he has gotten rid of the school ground bully boy attitude and arrogance he once had in his early years.

I think that Rosberg is out, and he could be headed for Ferrari, not McLaren. Rosberg, hasn’t really set the place on fire, apart from the single win, given what he did in the past at the lower formulas. He doesn’t have a rep as a person who can sort out the car.

Hamilton is quick, that I agree on, but the big question with him, does he know why he is quick? Lots of gossip and rumours over the last 18 months out of McLaren about how well Button is working with the engineers, but not the same about Hamilton.

So put a speed merchant – Hamilton – in the Mercedes car, alongside a proven pro like Schumacher, who can actually sort out a car, given his experience, and you just might have a winning team.

I am not really a big fan of Schumacher, given his past mistakes and tactics, but he doesn’t look like a guy about to give it all up, just yet….


+1 keith


Bird already talks like a PR flack, if those are his actual words.


I hope Schumacher retires soon. He is probably desperate to get a win in his failure of a comeback attempt.


Sam Bird drove the w03 in durban on a street track at the top gear festival. Now that was a good thing to see – a formula 1 car driving in my home city on roads I use.



HOw about a twist in the tale? Hamilton joins Mercedes in swap with Nico going to Mclaren, with MS staying on for a year, keeping the seat warm for Vettel to join in 2014?

Another trial balloon in the extended silly season

SK Anand


schumacher reminds of the late senna, in that when Coulthard took the reigns of the williams senna was injured in. Senna would still attend the pit garage and LISTEN AND SPEAK to Coulthard regarding his experience of driving the vehicle.


James – is the fact that Bianchi is getting double seat time at this test a sign that Ferrari are seriously considering elevanting him to the 2nd seat?


Doubtful. If Ferrari have indicated that Perez is ‘too young’, then Bianchi has no chance!


Michael Schumacher turning up at a test session he can’t even compete in. That’s surely the mark of a real pro.

I recall in his Ferrari career he sometimes returned to Italy to test between Asian races late in the season, always seeking the last piece of performance, rather than heading for the beach.

I simply cannot see this man leaving F1 within 2 months and if he does it will be so disappointing.

I for one really, truly hope he keeps racing next season.


Hi James,

Id heard that prof Watkins may have passed away but no formal confirmation.

Remember fondly him speaking at your preview showing of senna.




Yes, sadly he has died tonight.


Thanks for the reply. Was heartwarming to watch the tributes from all over Motorsport last night on twitter. A great contribution and a very good man by all accounts.


RIP Professor Sid Watkins. Modern F1 would not be where it is in terms of safety if it were not for the Prof.


Would a driver set to announce his retirement in one month go to a young drivers test just to assess some upgrades? I really hope that Michael being there is an indication that he will remain in Formula 1.

p.s. If I were Michael I’d try to see if McLaren were interested. I think this would be his best chance of fighting for a final title or at least grab a few race wins before retiring for good…


Interesting to see Schumacher in attendance. Does this show his dedication and is an indication that he is not retiring. Or is he practising for his new role???

DanWilliams from Aust

+1 I wondered the same



Would Schumi be retiring next year if he is still so obsessed by winning..which is clear from his presence at the test..!


Perhaps he wants to see if it will be worth sticking around for another year.

I wonder how differently his comeback would have gone if testing was as prevalent as it was during his heyday.


He’d be leading this year’s championship.

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