• Young Driver Test, Day 3

Bianchi tops Magny-Cours times for third day in a row

ESPN Staff
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Jules Bianchi set the fastest time at Magny-Cours for the third day in a row © Sutton Images

Jules Bianchi topped the times for the third day in a row at Magny-Cours as he returned to Ferrari for the final day of the Young Driver Test.

Bianchi tested the Ferrari F2012 on Tuesday before one day in the Force India on Wednesday and a second day in the Ferrari on Thursday. His time of 1:16.985 on the final day was not as quick as his best in the Force India, but he completed 138 laps taking his total mileage for the week up to 1067 miles.

The day's testing started in wet conditions but improved when the sun came out in the afternoon, with Bianchi clocking his fastest time in the final hour. Rodolfo Gonzalez was second fastest with a 1:18.018 in his first day in the Force India, but said he felt he could have gone quicker.

"Today has been a great experience," Gonzalez said. "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. "

Brendon Hartley took over testing duties at Mercedes as the team continued to analyse its new updates - including a fin on the W03's engine cover - with a focus on set-up on the hard tyre in the afternoon.

"It was an amazing feeling to be back driving a Formula One car today, and I would like to thank the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team for giving me this opportunity," Hartley said after setting a best time of 1:18.671. "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."

One of the updates on the Mercedes W03 © Sutton Images
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn added: "Today sees the conclusion of a successful three day test for the team in Magny Cours with our young drivers Sam Bird and Brendon Hartley. 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.

"Both Sam and Brendon have driven very well, providing good and consistent feedback, and I would like to thank them for their efforts and diligence over the last three days. 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."

Unofficial times

Driver Car Time Laps
1. Jules Bianchi Ferrari F2012 1:16.985 138
2. Rodolfo Gonzalez Force India VJM05 1:18.018 79
3. Brendon Hartley Mercedes W03 1:18.671 87