Bianchi tops first day of Magny-Cours test
11 September 2012 – Tuesday has seen Formula 1 return to Magny-Cours. As three teams attended for what is the second of three Young Driver tests this year, Jules Bianchi led the way for Ferrari. The Frenchman will be driving for Force India on Wednesday.
Unlike in previous years, the Young Driver tests have been split up for 2012. After a handful of teams ran at Silverstone earlier in the season, Ferrari has elected to run now along with Mercedes and Force India. Although the test is designed to be an outing for upcoming talents, this didn’t stop the teams trialling a number of updates for coming races. The most obvious were the re-profiled exhausts on the Mercedes, which was driven by Sam Bird.
It may have been Bird who completed most laps, having the track all to himself for much of the afternoon, but it was Bianchi leading the way with his best morning effort of 1:18.070 – just over one and a half seconds slower than Kimi Räikkönen’s French Grand Prix pole lap of four years ago. Following a one-hour break for lunch, the action resumed at two o’clock and it was in this second phase of the day that the wind began to pick up.
At Force India, GP2 title contender Luiz Razia – who suffered a disastrous weekend at Monza – was at the wheel, causing a brief red flag period when he spun at the Imola Chicane. On Wednesday, Bianchi will step into his customary role for 2012 as Davide Rigon enjoys another outing at Ferrari. Watching on the sidelines today was Kiwi Brendon Hartley, who is scheduled to drive for Mercedes on Thursday.
During the day, it was decided that the track action would be extended to six o'clock, allowing the teams a crucial extra hour of development time. During this hour Razia moved to second place, while Bianchi stopped on track at the Chateau d'Eau, causing a second red flag period.
The test continues at 9am local time (BST +1) on Wednesday