Jules Bianchi enjoyed the rare opportunity to compare two F1 cars back-to-back as he switched from Ferrari's F2012 to Sahara Force India's VJM05 for day two of the latest young driver test at Magny-Cours on Wednesday.
The Frenchman, who is a member of the Scuderia's young driver academy but on loan to SFI to help broaden his F1 experience as third driver in 2012, got his first laps at the wheel of the F2012 on day one of the test, and emerged with the quickest time while working on a programme aimed at confirming aero data on components already being run on the car at race weekends. However, for day two, with Davide Rigon also getting a debut run in the red machine, Bianchi - who currently races in the World Series by Renault - moved down the pit-lane to Force India.
Despite the swap, he continued to lead the way in terms of times, adding another 117 laps to his week's work and posting a best effort of 1min 16.467secs that improved his Ferrari benchmark by 1.5secs.
“A very enjoyable day and great to do so many laps," he reported, "I've done a lot of Friday practice sessions with the team but, when you spend a full day in the car, you can do so much more and really start to find the limit. It was a chance for me to get more used to the control systems and experience the car on both high and low fuel. The team asked me to work on the set-up and we saw the lap times improve during the day. The time in the car today was very valuable and will allow me to help the team even more in the remaining seven races of the season.”
“We've had an excellent day with Jules - he really stepped up to the task in hand and continued to impress all of us," chief engineer Jakob Andreasen confirmed, "Of course, we already know Jules well from running him during Friday practice sessions, but today he we was able to spend a full day in the car and demonstrate his potential.
"It was clear he felt comfortable in the car and we saw his confidence continue to grow with each run. The set-up programme went very smoothly and we focused on trying to learn more about the car and how to extract more performance. We ran on the hard, medium and soft compounds and completed both long and short runs.”
Bianchi returns to Ferrari for the final day of the test, with GP2 midfielder Rodolfo Gonzalez getting another F1 outing with SFI on Thursday.