When a driver goes too long without driving, a sense of frustration builds up: having a steering wheel between one’s hands and being able to press the accelerator is what they like best. If Jules Bianchi had been feeling this malaise, then Abu Dhabi has provided just the right cure. Over the course of two days, the Frenchman has come close to rattling off a thousand kilometres, after adding another 91 laps of the Yas Marina circuit today to the 85 from yesterday, staying glued in the cockpit pretty much throughout the entire time. “In testing, reliability is the key because it means you can work through everything planned by the engineers,” explained Jules at the end of this long day. “Today, we divided the work into two parts: in the morning we concentrated on new components relating to next year’s engine mapping, while in the afternoon, we had an in depth look at the experimental tyres that Pirelli has supplied to all the teams for this test. From what we could see, there is not that much difference compared to the 2011 tyres, but obviously, it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions.”
Jules made significant progress in terms of his lap times, improving on yesterday’s performance by around 7 tenths (from 1.40.960 to 1.40.279.) However, this was not enough to put him at the top of the timesheet, because once again today, his fellow countryman, Jean-Eric Vergne was fastest in the Red Bull, even if by only 91 thousandths. “I am a racing driver and therefore I always want to be quickest,” was Jules’ honest admission. “But I understand that in testing, lap times are not so relevant. I was pleased I was able to improve in terms of my performance, because it means that I am doing a good job, but the most important thing is to bring home useful data: there are only a few opportunities to test on track and one has to make the most of them. Tomorrow, we will continue to work on the tyres and apart from that, we will have to wait and see what the team will put on the agenda at the evening meeting.”
Of one thing, Jules can be certain: the engineers will always find a reason to put the car through its paces, because like the drivers, they too can’t get enough of it.