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Jules BianchiFormula 1 testing concluded at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours this afternoon following three trouble-free days for Scuderia Ferrari, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and Sahara Force India at the French venue.

Morning running was limited after light overnight rain left track conditions damp for the 9am start, though the teams were able to complete a number of medium-length runs before lunchtime.

And though dark clouds continued to linger above the track no further rain would fall, ensuring the remainder of the session took place on a dry circuit. In fact as running continued into the afternoon there were increasing expanses of blue sky and sunshine above, allowing the teams to up their workloads and add further mileage to that accumulated earlier in the week.

Of chief interest during the final day was Frenchman Jules Bianchi’s bid to complete a clean sweep of the test after topping the timesheets on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 23-year-old switched back to Scuderia Ferrari after spending yesterday aboard Sahara Force India’s VJM05 and once again proved unbeatable, recording a 1m16.985 late in the session to ensure his dominance of the test. Bianchi ran a total of 138 laps before quickly departing the circuit en-route to his crucial Formula Renault 3.5 race weekend in Hungary.

Second fastest was GP2 Series competitor Rodolfo Gonzalez who made his first appearance for the Sahara Force India outfit at Magny-Cours, though the Venezuelan could call upon previous Formula 1 testing experience as he acclimatised to his new equipment. The 26-year-old worked through 79 laps in the Mercedes-powered machine with a best effort of 1m18.018.

Completing Thursday’s runners was MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver Brendon Hartley with a lap of 1m18.671. It was a significant day for the 22-year-old New Zealand-born driver as he made his first appearance in an official test session for the German manufacturer, though like Gonzalez the Kiwi had prior seat-time in Formula 1 machinery ahead of his 87-lap programme.

Impressively, Thursday’s running was not interrupted by a single stoppage as all three drivers proved highly competent at the controls of Formula 1 equipment.

Jules Bianchi, Scuderia Ferrari: “After these three days of testing I feel ready to race in Formula 1. I grew up a lot and learned a great deal driving with Ferrari and Force India, so it has been a good experience all-round. As it was damp this morning we just ran checks. It was my first time on intermediate tyres, so I was familiarising myself with the track and car in those conditions. Driving in the wet was cool, though obviously there was not a lot of grip out there on the inters. Overall I think this has positive test for me and I feel even more prepared for Formula 1.”

Rodolfo Gonzalez, Sahara Force India: “Today has been a great experience. 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, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS: “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. 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.”

Day 3: Times/Laps/Distance covered
1. Jules Bianchi (Scuderia Ferrari) – 1m16.985 – 138 laps – 607.2km
2. Rodolfo Gonzalez (Sahara Force India) – 1m18.018 – 79 laps – 347.6km
3. Brendon Hartley (MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS) – 1m18.671 – 87 laps – 382.8km

You can keep up to date with the test by following @MagnyCoursTrack and liking the circuit’s Facebook page.

Photo by www.F1-Direct.com.

Jules BianchiThe 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

You can keep up to date with the test by following @MagnyCoursTrack and liking the circuit’s Facebook page.

Photo by Jean-François Galeron.

Magny CoursFormula 1 cars will return to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours tomorrow (11 September) when Scuderia Ferrari, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and Sahara Force India begin three days of young driver testing at the French venue.

Cars will run on the 17-turn, 4.4km track between 9am and 1pm and again from 2pm through 5pm local time. The opening day of the test will see Frenchman Jules Bianchi driving for Scuderia Ferrari, Britain’s Sam Bird piloting the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS car and Luiz Razia of Brazil aboard the Sahara Force India machine. All three men have previous Formula 1 experience, though Razia will be making his maiden appearance for the British-based team.

Tickets are available at the circuit gate on each day of the test at a cost of €10.

Serge Saulnier, Chairman of the Board: “My staff and I are delighted to welcome the teams and drivers to our circuit and hope that they enjoy a pleasant, productive stay. The track and its facilities have undergone numerous improvements over the past few years, with many more planned for the near future, so I’m confident of a very successful few days. We look forward to a test that I hope can benefit all involved while also raising Magny-Cours’ profile.”

You can keep up to date with the test by following @MagnyCoursTrack and liking the circuit’s Facebook page.

Circuit Magny-CoursFormula 1 will return to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours next month (September 11-13) when Scuderia Ferrari, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and Sahara Force India conduct their annual Young Driver Tests at the historic French venue.

The 17-turn, 4.4km track will provide the teams’ aspiring grand prix stars with a suitably demanding challenge as they tackle a combination of flowing, high-speed corners and slower technical sections. These characteristics also represent an ideal layout on which to hone car set-ups ahead of the season’s crucial final seven rounds.

Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours is no stranger to the roar of Formula 1 engines having played host to the French Grand Prix a total of 18 times between 1991 and 2008.

The venue has continued to stage numerous top-line racing events ever since, including international single-seater, touring car, GT and motorcycle championships.

During this period extensive upgrades have also been made to the circuit and its facilities, while the opening of a new motorway linking the track with Paris has significantly cut journey times and improved access.

Set-up for the test begins at the circuit on Sunday (September 9) before cars take to the track on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the following week.

Serge Saulnier, Chairman of the Board: “I am thrilled to be able to confirm that Formula 1 cars will return to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours next month. We have worked tirelessly to upgrade the venue, which has just been homologated to F1 standards for another four years, and I am certain that the teams and drivers will appreciate the work that has been put in.

“What’s more, this is an extremely positive step forward as we seek to return Formula 1 racing to our circuit. With Magny-Cours a candidate to host future French Grands Prix, it will be fantastic to showcase the track and our staff’s know-how to the high-calibre F1 personnel who will be on-site.”

Photo by Circuit Magny-Cours.

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs successfully completed the Young Driver Test at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday at the wheel of Marussia Virgin Racing’s MVR-02 F1 car. The Tonbridge racer was rewarded for his performance this season in the sister Marussia Manor Racing GP3 team with the opportunity for a third test in the F1 car, completing 30 laps in the morning session, in temperatures of 25?C.

“I would like to say a very big thank you to Marussia Virgin Racing for this fantastic opportunity today,” said Adrian. “It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot. This morning I began with some CSL (constant speed limiter) runs on the straights so the team could conduct some aero measurement work and then I got into the programme properly”.

“I ran two sets of new tyres and just began chipping away at the lap times as I learned more about the car and how it reacts. Overall I’m pleased with the day and it’s been a huge experience for me.”

The 20 year-old has already successfully tested twice for the John Booth-led F1 team, carrying out aero-testing at Idiada Proving Ground in Spain and RAF Cottesmore in Leicestershire, clocking up around 350km collectively.

However Tuesday’s test was more than just an appraisal of outright pace. The team had prepared a detailed evaluation programme designed to examine every aspect of a driver’s all-round potential, including decision-making, quality of feedback and an appreciation of engineering procedure.

The programme also facilitated the testing of 2012 developments, including gearbox and engine installation parts. John Booth, Team Principal of Marussia Virgin Racing was pleased with the performance of his GP3 racer Adrian, and fellow racer Charles Pic.

“Both Adrian and Charles followed a very similar programme, which was designed to ease them into circuit running in an F1 car,” said John. “We’re very happy with how both of them have performed today. Both used the Soft Pirelli tyre, with Adrian perhaps slightly disadvantaged by the track temperature and Charles by only using one new set.

“We specifically chose to use the same tyre compounds as used by the race drivers last weekend to give the drivers a better reference, rather than using the Supersoft compound which has clearly been shown to be the quicker tyre over one lap today. All in all, a good job from both drivers.”

Adrian will now conduct a testing programme over the coming weeks, including two days at Motorland, Aragon in a Formula Renault 3.5 car on 29/30 November, as the BRDC Rising Star continues to evaluate his options for 2012.

To watch the video from Yas Marina, please visit the Marussia Virgin Racing website at the following link:

http://www.marussiavirginracing.com/news/503/

Adrian Quaife-HobbsBritish race ace Adrian Quaife-Hobbs will undertake his third Formula One test at the wheel of the Marussia Virgin Racing F1 team’s MVR-02 car in Abu Dhabi in November. The 20 year-old will complete the opening day’s F1 rookie tests immediately following the Grand Prix, which takes place on 3 November, as reward for his performance in the 2011 GP3 Series.

Quaife-Hobbs has already successfully tested twice for the John Booth-led F1 team, carrying out aero-testing at Idiado Proving Ground in Spain where he completed around 150kms and then at RAF Cottesmore where he clocked up over 200kms at the Leicestershire airforce base.

Now, as the most successful driver in the team’s sister GP3 Marussia Manor Racing team, Quaife-Hobbs from Tonbridge, Kent will take to the track on which he successfully completed a GP2 session last year, to complete his first proper F1 circuit test.

“I’m very excited about the prospect of driving the MVR-02 again following my two aero tests and welcome the chance to drive around a proper circuit,” said Adrian. “In Idiado and RAF Cottesmore, it was purely straight-line testing, which was a fantastic opportunity to be part of the team’s ongoing development, but now it will be proper testing and I can’t wait.

“I finished the season as top Manor GP3 driver and it’s nice to have your results recognised in this way. Previously I was helping the team to carry out development work, but now it will be more about them testing me. However, after a successful performance in the last two tests, I feel confident that I can continue to improve as I get more used to the car, and hopefully produce some reasonable lap times.”

With the 2011 GP3 Series now over, following the F1 test Quaife-Hobbs will carry out a full testing programme over the coming months in a variety of cars as the BRDC Rising Star evaluates his options for the 2012 season.

Max ChiltonCarlin’s GP2 driver Max Chilton got his first taste of F1 machinery this week when he took part in a straight-line aerodynamic test for the Force India F1 team. The 20 year-old Briton impressed the team with his mature attitude during the test at Kemble
yesterday.

Standing in for the team’s race drivers who were otherwise engaged, Chilton helped the team carry out much of its programme and gathered valuable data which will be used in Singapore, although the day was cut short due to an exhaust problem.

Force India’s Oliver Knighton, who is race support engineer said, “We were able to record the important aero data, which we will analyse over the next few days.

“I’d like to say a special ‘thank you’ to Max, who enjoyed his first taste of an F1 car today. He prepared himself very well and adapted quickly to the procedures and systems on the car, all of which allowed us to make good progress with the programme.”

Chilton was delighted to have been given his first taste of F1, adding, “It was an amazing experience and I’d like to thank Force India for giving me the opportunity and for making me feel so comfortable in the car. I think I was able to help the team gather some good data – which of course was the priority. Getting any amount of seat time in an F1 car is a privilege and I’m extremely grateful for the experience.”

Photo by GP3 Media Services.

Nick Heidfeld who still has a valid contract as main driver with LRGP is set to continue legal proceedings before the High Court of London after LRGP has temporarily been allowed to let Bruno Senna drive in Nick’s place until a final decision at a full trial which will take place after the Monza Grand Prix.

Nick’s legal representative Dr. Stefan Seitz, Cologne, Germany: “The interlocutory decision of the court does not infringe on the fact that Nick has a valid contract to be one of the two main drivers of the team. This position is disputed by the team for apparently purely financial reasons. We do not intend to rest before Nick’s legal position has been fully restored.”

Nick’s manager Andre Theuerzeit: “I am disappointed that the team is allowed to let another driver take Nick’s seat for the next weekends. However, I certainly am confident that we will be able to enforce a fair solution for Nick in the further proceedings. We all hope that Nick will be back in the cockpit in Singapore.”

Also Nick Heidfeld stated his view: “I was surprised by the Team’s intention to replace me and regret that things have developed this way. I just wanted to be in the cockpit to get the best result for the team and me. I still have a clear contract and I want to drive.”

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs completed a successful maiden F1 test at the wheel of Marussia Virgin Racing’s MVR-02 Formula One car on Sunday, completing 146 kms of the Idiado proving ground in Spain. As part of the Marussia Virgin Young Driver programme, the 20 year-old helped the team in its first straight-line aero test carrying out detailed evaluation work with the updated aerodynamic package, which was introduced at the last round in Turkey.

The test was carried out with a view to extracting maximum performance from the car from next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix onwards with the car running reliably throughout for the Marussia Manor Racing GP3 star.

Adrian visited the team’s Sheffield base for a briefing and seat fitting on Thursday and flew out early on Saturday morning for Sunday’s test, declaring the run a dream come true. “It was an incredibly special day for me,” said Adrian. “Driving a Formula One car is what every young driver dreams of from the moment you start racing, and it has been fantastic to finally experience that.

“I completed many runs for the team and helped them to collect a lot of data. I can’t thank Marussia Virgin Racing enough for this amazing opportunity, as it really allows me to gain experience and see how a Formula One team works. Experiences like this only make you hungry for more and it’s exciting to get a taste of what the future could hold.”

Team Principal John Booth, was equally happy with the team’s first straight-line aero test and Adrian’s performance. “Congratulations to Adrian on a very impressive debut in the Marussia Virgin Racing MVR-02 today. It really is extremely rewarding to put these young guys in the car and see how they respond to such an opportunity. He acclimatised well to the car and developed a strong rapport with the engineers and mechanics, so he should feel pleased with his first day’s work in a Formula One car.

“Overall it has been a very productive test for us, with the Idiada proving ground providing us with excellent conditions with which to test the updated package that we introduced at the last race. As we might have expected in its debut outing, we experienced a few teething problems in Istanbul and this test has provided us with the opportunity to understand more of the potential of the developments. We’re looking forward to seeing further signs of progress in Spain next week.”

Video footage of Adrian’s first F1 test with the Marussia Virgin Racing, together with additional imagery, will be available later this week on Adrian’s official website at www.quaifehobbs.com.

Adrian returns to racing action when he pilots his Marussia Manor Racing GP3 car in the next double-header rounds of the 2011 GP3 Series this weekend at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Spain.

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs will get his first taste of F1 power when he carries out testing duties for the Marussia Virgin Racing F1 team at Idiada, Spain on Sunday. The 20 year-old GP3 racer competes for the sister Marussia Manor Racing GP3 team and as part of the Marussia Virgin Young Driver Development Programme will carry out approximately 300 kms evaluating the body work of the car used in the first three races of 2011.

Thereafter he will evaluate the new and updated car in preparation for the remaining rounds of the Formula One World Championship. Adrian will visit the Sheffield workshop on Thursday for a briefing and seat fitting prior to flying out early on Saturday for Sunday’s test which gets underway at 9am.

The Tonbridge racer is relishing his first outing in an F1 car and quick to thank the team for the opportunity. “I’m very much looking forward to driving an F1 car for the first time and must thank the Marussia Virgin Racing team for the faith they have shown in me in allowing me to carry out aerodynamic testing in their new car.

“It’s a great opportunity to get the chance to drive an F1 car as the team carries out computerised design testing with the new car. We’ll be testing lots of aero parts and I’m really proud to be playing a part in it. Doing aero testing there is no pressure to perform but it will give me a great opportunity to see how the F1 team works.”

Following the test, Adrian will return to racing action in the next double-header rounds of the 2011 GP3 Series which take place over the weekend of 20-22 May at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Spain.