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Young guns test day 3: Bianchi completes Magny-Cours clean sweep
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Sep 2012   |  6:02 pm GMT  |  21 comments

Jules Bianchi nothced up a hat-trick of fastest times at the Magny-Cours young drivers’ test as he returned to the Ferrari cockpit for Thursday’s final day.

Having had a unique chance to directly compare the Ferrari F2012 and Force India VJM05 over the course of the first two days, Bianchi was back in the former’s title-chasing challenger on day three and wrapped up an encouraging week for both himself and Ferrari mileage-wise with 138 more laps to bring his personal test total to over 300.

The 23-year-old was able to top the century again despite rain hitting the former French GP circuit in the morning, meaning the three drivers present completed their early ventures on the circuit on intermediate and wet tyres.  The skies over Magny-Cours gradually improved thereafter into the early afternoon and Bianchi came under slightly more pressure for the fastest time than hitherto in the week with Force India debutant Rodolfo Gonzalez hitting the top of the timesheet mid-way through the second session with what turned out to be his best lap of the day, 1m18.018s.

Bianchi, however, reasserted his dominance with a later superior lap of 1m16.985, which although the best lap set in a Ferrari this week, fell over 0.4s short of his overall quickest effort of the week set on day two in the Force India.

Gonzalez, whose Force India team packed up earlier than either of their fellow two teams, therefore finished second on the timesheet and the Venezuelan was pleased with his 348km-worth of mileage.

“Today has been a great experience. The conditions were quite difficult to begin with because of the wet start to the day, but it was good to try out the wet and intermediate tyres,” he said. “The other main task was getting used to the control systems and building my speed and feel for the car. I’m quite happy with my pace today, although I think there was more to come because it was my first time driving at Magny-Cours and my first time in the car. The team did a great job of making me feel welcome and comfortable, and I really hope to get another chance to drive a Formula One car soon. ”

The third man in the field, former Red Bull-backed junior Brendon Hartley, has had previous F1 test experience in 2008-2009 and once the rain had cleared he was able to complete some long hard-tyre runs in the upgraded Mercedes, clocking a best time of 1:18.671 after 87 laps. Aside from giving two young drivers vital F1 track time, the test has been particularly key for Mercedes which has tried a new exhaust and Lotus-style double DRS, and team chief Ross Brawn said the team now had plenty of data to analyse ahead of Singapore.

“This was an important test, allowing both drivers [Hartley and Sam Bird] some important track time in a Formula One car, and enabling us to continue our development programme with the evaluation of our new upgrades,” Brawn said.

“Both Sam and Brendon have driven very well, providing good and consistent feedback, and I would like to thank them for their efforts and diligence over the last three days.

“We now have a wealth of data from the test to study back at the factory over the next few days and in advance of the forthcoming race in Singapore.”

The remaining six teams who have yet to complete their permitted days of young driver testing – Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Caterham – will, as has traditionally become the case, now use the days after the Abu Dhabi GP in November to give their respective young drivers a run-out around Yas Marina.

Marussia already completed their young guns running at Silverstone in July by today confirmed the identity of one of the drivers who will get track time in the corresponding sessions in 2013, Cypriot Tio Ellinas to be rewarded for finishing the GP3 season as the highest-ranked Marussia Manor Racing driver. The 20-year-old finished eighth in the championship but capped his debut season at that level in fine style by finishing second and then first in the final races at Monza last weekend.

YOUNG GUNS TEST, Magny-Cours – Day three

1. Jules Bianchi   Ferrari   1m16.985s   138 laps

2. Rodolfo Gonzalez   Force India   1m18.018s   79

3. Brendon Hartley   Mercedes   1m18.671s   87

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Lachlan Mackinnon

James, what’s your thoughts on seeing Bianchi on grid in 2013? Hard one to answer I realise and will no doubt rely heavily on Hamilton/Merc move and the respective chain reaction from there onwards. I would welcome any thoughts from fellow bloggers?


His management and Ferrari will want to see him racing in 2013, he has to if his career is going to progress.

So it will be interesting to see how that resolves itself and if they are prepared to out money behind it


Do you think Ferrari would’ve gained anything from FIF1 with Bianchi driving one of their cars?


Don’t understand the question


Interesting that Ross choses to thank his test drivers in a PR release. Does this mean they paid for their drives? Or that it was only a one-off? If the team had a long term deal with them, why thank them in a PR release?


More like the drivers and their sponsors paid Mercedes to drive.

Brawns press release was to maximize PR for the drivers and their sponsors.

Probably agreed in advance.

Well, you know, I’ve been an F1 test driver.

Always good on your resume whatever you will do drive in the future.


Im I the only one who thinks this is extrordinary? When was the last time a driver got to drive two different grand prix cars, (almost) back to back?

I want to see a Top Gear magazine Super Test!



Each team ought to send their cars to Top Gear for the Stig to test drive around the Top Gear test track to see which comes out on top 😀

Or even, get them all tested by Alonso. That way we’d see a more convincing result..


Or is the stig Alonso?!! XD


In these times of limited testing, it seems crazy to me to test (even with young guns) after the season has finished.


James, there hasn’t been a kiwi F1 driver for a long, long time. Does this test mean there is a chance of Hartley making the step or are we going to have to wait for Mitch Evans or Richie Stanaway to come through?


I second this question, star gazing I know but would be nice to hear it from an insider on the chances….


Dear James,

It’s difficult for me to understand why Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus decided not to do the test,as they are fighting the WDC and WCC with Ferrari that undoubtely will take advantage of this track time.




Plus their mechanics will be knackered as it’s the only week off in a five feel burst of races India, AD, US, Brazil


out of the 7 races left what tracks suite each team?


What’s the difference in the double DRS of the Lotus and Mercedes?

Lotus must have made a really good one if Mercedes are testing it. Would’ve thought Mercedes had the better one


The difference is that the Lotus system isn’t a double DRS.


then why would Mercedes be testing it is my point?


If I’m not mistaken, Mercedes’s DDRS is ruled out for next season by the rules so perhaps they are pursuing this with an eye on next year.


To be brief, Mercedes old system was activated by the drs opening. The lotus system is a fluidic switch which stalls the rear wing above a certain tunable air speed.

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