Jules Bianchi was fastest, once again, on the third and final day of the Young Driver Test at Magny Cours.
The Frenchman, who topped the timesheets on Tuesday in a Ferrari, then again for Force India on Wednesday, was back in a scarlet car today to complete a 100% record for the week.
Rodolfo Gonzalez made his first appearance of the week in the Force India, while Brendon Hartley was given his first outing in the Mercedes.
Some light rain at the beginning of the day meant the three teams at the test had to use the intermediate and wet tyres from Pirelli for much of the morning.
“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. “After a few hours the track dried and we carried on with our programme, centred mainly on aerodynamic measurement and set-up evaluation.
“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.”
Gonzalez finished the day second fastest, just over a second off the pace of Bianchi.
“Today has been a great experience,” said the Venezuelan. “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. 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. ”
Hartley, the former Toro Rosso and Red Bull test driver, who is now a regular simulator driver for Mercedes, also enjoyed his return to the track in an F1 car.
“It was an amazing feeling to be back driving a Formula One car today, and I would like to thank [Mercedes] for giving me this opportunity,” said the New Zealander. “The track was quite wet this morning so we lost some time but once it had dried out, we were able to get on with the test programme, using mainly the hard tyre. It was a successful day for both me and the team, and we completed the programme, despite the weather.
“I’m happy with my performance and pleased that it only took a couple of runs before I was on the pace as it’s been three years since I last drove a Formula One car. I’m very grateful for the experience and really enjoyed working with the team today.”
The teams now look ahead to the Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place a week on Sunday.
Magny-Cours Young Driver Test: Day Three Times
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