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Back in the Ferrari F2012, Jules Bianchi topped the timesheets for the third and final day of the Young Driver Test at Magny-Cours.
Having driven the Ferrari on Tuesday, on Wednesday, the Frenchman, a member of the Maranello outfit's Driver Academy, switched to the Mercedes powered Force India. Today he was back in the red car completing 138 laps on his way to posting the best time of the day for the third time this week.
Light rain made conditions tricky at the start of the session, with conditions improving as the sun came out, gradually drying the track.
"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 setup 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."
Having run Luiz Razia on Tuesday and Bianchi on Wednesday, today Force India handed over its VJM05 to Rodolfo Gonzalez the Venezuelan GP2 racer who previously drove the (Caterham) Lotus T127 in 2010 in the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.
"Today has been a great experience," said Gonzalez, who completed 79 laps on his way to posting the second best time of the day. "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."
"A good end to our test in Magny-Cours and it was good to work with Rodolfo for the first time," added chief engineer, Jakob Andreasen. "We lost track time in the morning with the wet conditions, but the weather cleared up for the afternoon allowing him to run the hard, medium and soft tyres. So he was able to sample the car in all conditions, which is always valuable experience. We also made sure he carried out pit stop simulations and launches, as we did with Luiz earlier in the week. The other items on the job list included running different aero settings, which went smoothly. Overall it has been an excellent week with a super-human effort by the team to run this test alongside preparations for Singapore."
Former Red Bull and Toro Rosso tester Brendon Hartley returned to the F1 cockpit with Mercedes the Kiwi completing 87 laps. Due to the weather conditions the Brackley outfit opted to take an early lunch and were subsequently able to get straight to work on the hard compound Pirellis.
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