Bianchi ends test on top - again
Fastest in a Ferrari on Tuesday, fastest in a Force India on Wednesday and fastest again in a Ferrari on Thursday
Last Updated: 13/03/13 2:29pm
2013 hopeful Jules Bianchi completed a cleansweep of fastest times as the young driver test ended on a soggy note at Magny-Cours.
Having been fastest on day one in a Ferrari and then quickest again on day two after switching to Force India, Bianchi, back behind the wheel of a Ferrari F2012, wrapped up a highly impressive midweek's work by setting Thursday's best time as he exploited the afternoon's improved conditions with a lap of 1:16.985.
"In the morning, I did a few laps to get a feel for the car on the intermediate tyres and even though there was not much grip, it was no bad thing to get some experience in the wet, after two days of dry testing," said Bianchi at the day's conclusion.
"I feel I learned a lot from this test and I think the work was constructive for me and for the team. We tried to improve the balance of the car and looked at some things that could be useful in the upcoming races."
Bianchi would be a leading contender to replace Nico Hulkenberg or Paul di Resta at Force India next season if either driver were to move on and the youngster has done his cause no harm with a polished display this week in France.
Meanwhile, Rodolfo Gonzalez debuted for Force India, describing his first taste of a F1 car as "a great experience".
Gonzalez's best time was just over a second behind Bianchi's and the GP2 star expressed himself happy with his peformance afterwards: "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."
Replacing Sam Bird, Brendon Hartley was in action for Mercedes, running a series of long runs during the afternoon session on hard tyres as the team continued to evaluate their new upgrades.
"This was an important test, allowing both drivers some important track time in a Formula One car, and enabling us to continue our development programme with the evaluation of our new upgrades," reflected team boss Ross Brawn. "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."
This week's test times
1. Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1:16.985 136 laps
2. Rodolfo Gonzalez Force India 1:18.018 79 laps
3. Brendon Hartley Mercedes 1:18.671 87 laps.
1. Jules Bianchi Force India 1:16.467 117 laps
2. Sam Bird Mercedes 1:17.482 125 laps
3. Davide Rigon Ferrari 1:17.925 165 laps.
1. Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1:18.070
2. Luiz Razia Force India 1:18.535
3. Sam Bird Mercedes 119.094