Silverstone Test: Day Two

The second and final day of the in-season test at Silverstone has drawn to a close and today’s running was even more intriguing than yesterday’s. Packed schedules across the board meant that it was a busy day up and down the paddock, and Pirelli hit the headlines for more positive reasons this time around at Silverstone, with the manufacturer trialling 18-inch tyres on the Lotus E22, driven by Charles Pic. Meanwhile, Jules Bianchi made an impression, once again, in the Ferrari, as the Frenchman filled in for the injured Kimi Raikkonen. Bianchi finished top of the timesheet, while setting very representative times.

Pirelli Debut’s 18-Inch Tyres

In this modern formula which is tying to develop technologies which are relevant to the road car industry, tyres appear to be the next port of call for an update. Pirelli brought prototype 18-inch tyres to today’s test, with Charles Pic in the Lotus, completing 13 laps with these attached. “We weren’t looking for performance,” Paul Hembery said, “the priority was to show people what a Formula One car would look like with a change of rim.” Unlike many other recent regulation proposals, this particular development seems to have received a reasonably warm reception among the public – I for one agree with the majority in regards to this.
The wheels on Charles Pic’s Lotus were hardly an eye-sore, but neither did they look magnificent. However, this is a positive thing. Anteater noses, for instance, received bad press due to how they negatively impacted on a car’s aesthetics, (as did step noses). While I’m not suggesting that this new tyre is attractive, it is aesthetically neutral. Meanwhile, it makes total sense from a business perspective. Tyre manufacturers are ultimately involved in Formula One, (and any other motorsport), in order to boost and expand their markets. They do not spend millions on a motorsport programme just to have some fun over the weekend – It is a form of marketing, and an expensive one at that. To get their moneys-worth, Pirelli want to have tyres in Formula One which are as representative as possible to their road car programmes. Who knows; such a development could restore a tyre war in the sport, which could spice up competition. Either way, Pirelli and the FIA seem to be heading in the right direction. It looks likely that 18-inch tyres will not be a permanent fixture until 2017, but after today, a change by this date looks likely.

Bianchi Fastest

He may be a fill-in, but Jules Bianchi did his best experienced driver impression once again today. The Frenchman took over duties in place of the injured Kimi Raikkonen and topped the timesheet, while completing an excellent programme of 89 laps. I have been incredibly impressed with Jules Bianchi each and every time he has jumped into the Ferrari, and today was perhaps the most sublime of them all. Jules had to complete a full programme with Marussia yesterday, before hopping into the F14 T today. The challenge of switching from one car to another is not a feat to be underestimated and Jules has been doing it throughout his career, switching from a Force India to a Ferrari during numerous testing weeks throughout 2012 and 2013. The term, old head on young shoulders has rarely applied more. 
Meanwhile, a number of even less experienced names took to the circuit today in search of some very valuable experience. Most notably, Julian Leal earned his very first taste of Formula One as Caterham continued to field their youngsters, following Will Stevens’ run yesterday. Leal, who drives for Carlin in GP2, has enjoyed an excellent 2014 campaign so far, exceeding expectations and currently sitting P6 in the championship after seven points finishes from ten races. The mileage that Leal managed today was indeed enough to qualify for his FIA superlicence, meaning that we will probably be seeing a lot more of the 24-year-old in the future. 

How The Mighty Fall…

…ok, maybe not, but Lewis Hamilton’s Wednesday was certainly not as good as his Sunday. After completing numerous slow-speed aerodynamic evaluation runs in the morning, Lewis suffered a spin at Stowe, bringing the session to a halt. Then, an engine change meant that Mercedes’ running was limited to just 47 laps. By his own admission, Hamilton’s day “wasn’t great”. However, the day was far from a total write-off and with Nico Rosberg’s mileage yesterday, in a day which he described as “a good day”, Mercedes won’t be too disappointed with their week.
Meanwhile, Red Bull suffered a similar issue with Sebastian Vettel at the helm. A change to the power unit did limit mileage to an extent, but the eventual 79 laps was far from a modest total. Some of this mileage was also very valuable for Pirelli, as the team tested the 2015 prototypes.

Overall, it seems that most teams have managed to gain at least one strong day of testing. Perhaps more importantly, the young talents and stars of the future have been given their chance to get ore experience behind the wheel of the cars and considering the performances of the likes of Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen this year, the talent pool certainly has more to give.

Day Two Timesheet
1 Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1:35.262 89 laps
2 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:35.544 55 laps
3 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:35.593 91 laps
4 Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:36.327 84 laps
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.680 47 laps
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.193 40 laps
7 Max Chilton Marussia 1:37.359 77 laps
8 Dani Juncadella Force India 1:37.708 52 laps
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:39.811 76 laps
10 Charles Pic Lotus 1:41.906 39 laps
11 Julian Leal Caterham 1:42.635 51 laps.

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