Jules Bianchi has continued his timesheet-topping form at Magny Cours

Jules Bianchi has again set the pace in this week’s ‘Young Drivers’ test session at Magny Cours on France. On a day when conditions were much cooler than on the opening day of testing, the Frenchman smashed the lap-time he’d posted on Day 1 in a Ferrari, having switched to his usual Force India cockpit overnight.


Bianchi, a GP2 stalwart in recent years, has been part of Ferrari’s driver development program and has this year been loaned to Force India to give him valuable Friday practice mileage while the Scuderia can assess his potential at arm’s length during the 2012 season.

Having donned his orange, white and green overall for the day, Bianchi quickly got down to business and steadily chipped away at his lap times, posting a best effort of 1:16.467 by the close of play. That time was 1.5 seconds quicker than the time he’d clocked in the Ferrari the day before, indicating just how temperature sensitive Magny Cours can be when it comes to delivering ultra-quick lap times.

The Ferrari cockpit was occupied by up-and-coming Italian driver Davide Rigon – a protégé of long-time talent-spotter and former team owner Gian Carlo Minardi – who was tasked with performing a raft of aerodynamic assessment tests on the F2012.

Rigon clocked up a mammoth 163 laps over the course of the day – over 700km of running – en route to posting a best time of 1:17.925.

Schumacher played the role of spectator while Bird took the Mercedes around Magny CoursHalf a second quicker was Mercedes reserve driver Sam Bird, who again completed another full day’s running in the heavily-revised W03, which is sporting a new-iteration double DRS design and Coanda-effect exhausts.

The Englishman – who drove under the watchful gaze of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher – concentrated on longer runs and posted a fastest lap time of 1:17.482 with 125 laps completed.

It is expected that he will hand over the controls to New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley for the final day’s running. Hartley will make his first return to an F1 cockpit after being unexpectedly dumped from Red Bull’s driver development program in 2010. The young Kiwi was opportunistically snapped up by Mercedes, who have put him to work in their simulator back at their Brackley headquarters.

2012 Magny Cours ‘Young Drivers’ Test Session – Day 2 Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Jules Bianchi FRA Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:16.467   117
2. Davide Rigon BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:17.482 + 1.015 125
3. Sam Bird GBR Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:17.925 + 1.458 163

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.