Panis happy with testing role

Olivier Panis may have announced his retirement from racing this season but the Frenchman is still happy to get behind the wheel for Toyota. While most teams were at Barcelona for the first stint of winter testing last week, Panis spent four days at Paul Ricard in France to put the new Toyota engine through its paces.

Olivier Panis.
Photo by Toyota Racing.

"We worked on a variety of items, but mainly on the new specification RVX-05 engine for next season," he said. "Luca Marmorini and his team have all done a fantastic job on next year's two-race engine. We were able to complete the required distance with no real issues and I am highly encouraged by the efficient operations of the whole team."

Panis racked up 279 laps of the Paul Ricard hi-tech track, a total of 1,610 kilometres over the four days. He may not be racing any more but is pleased to stay with Toyota in a testing capacity.

"This test marks the start of an exciting new challenge for me at Toyota and I am proud that I can continue to play such a vital role within the team," he commented. "I am looking forward to my next test in a couple of weeks."

Toyota will start the 2005 season with a new car, the TF105, which is currently nearing the end of production and should be ready by Christmas. It's scheduled to debut on the test track in January.

"Although we are introducing the TF105 comparatively early, there will be significant development on it before the first race of the season," said technical director Mike Gascoyne.

"We will have a totally new aerodynamic package in Melbourne, but we want to run the new car as soon as possible in order to get it reliable for the Australian Grand Prix. There is a lot of work to be done on the new car, but we will also be running the TF104B for a lot of the tyre work in the run-up to the opening race."