The three-day Formula 1 test at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours got off to a busy start today as Scuderia Ferrari, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and Sahara Force India completed significant running at the French venue.
Piloting Ferrari's F12012 at his home circuit, Jules Bianchi recorded the best time of the day with a lap of 1m18.070. The 23-year-old will switch to Sahara Force India tomorrow with Italy's Davide Rigon taking his place in the famous red machine.
Brazilian Luiz Razia grabbed the second fastest time for Sahara Force India by setting a 1m18.535 late in the afternoon session. Britain's Sam Bird was P3 for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, circulating in 1m19.094.
All three drivers enjoyed extensive running on the 4.4km circuit where conditions remained dry and warm for the duration of the opening day. Bird was particularly busy, the 25-year-old completing a total of 95 laps as his team worked through a number of new upgrades on their F1-W03. Bianchi got through 87 tours aboard the Ferrari while Razia ran 65 laps in what was his first outing for the British-based team.
The day proved notably trouble-free, with only two brief stoppages during the eight hours of running. The test resumes tomorrow morning at 9am local time with tickets available on the gate for €10.
Jules Bianchi, Scuderia Ferrari: "I knew the track from racing here in Formula Renault and F3 and I really enjoy it. It has a great mix of corners, with some quick turns which are important for the aerodynamics, and then the hairpin where you can work on traction and Brakes. All this makes it a good track for testing and I'd like there to be a race here."
Sam Bird, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS: "I've driven at Magny-Cours previously in a Formula 3 car and it was good to experience it today in Formula 1 machinery. The layout here is nice and smooth whilst also being quite challenging. We've collected a lot of data which will take some time to sift through this evening and I'm looking forward to another good day tomorrow."
Day 1: Times/Laps/Distance covered
1. Jules Bianchi (Scuderia Ferrari) - 1m18.070 - 87 laps - 383.76km
2. Luiz Razia (Sahara Force India) - 1m18.535 - 65 laps - 286.72km
3. Sam Bird (MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS) - 1m19.094 - 95 laps - 419.05km