Panis looks ahead to Melbourne

Toyota's Olivier Panis looks ahead to the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne: "The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne is a very nice place to begin the Formula 1 season, as I think the ambience is terrific with everybody anxious to...

Toyota's Olivier Panis looks ahead to the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne:

"The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne is a very nice place to begin the Formula 1 season, as I think the ambience is terrific with everybody anxious to see how the cars perform in actual competition."

"Before we go to Australia we are stopping over in Japan to attend some fan club events as well as the Panasonic Toyota Racing F1 press conference in Tokyo on Monday. It is going to be a busy time for both Cristiano and myself, but it will be nice to see all of the Japanese fans before the race season gets underway. I have to say it is always surprising to see the huge level of support from the Japanese fans, but we have lots of support from all over the world as well, which adds to our motivation."

Olivier Panis.
Photo by Dave Dyer.
"As often, I am in a very positive frame of mind at the moment. We have been testing the new TF103 car since the beginning of January and we have made some very good progress. It has been particularly encouraging to see how much we improve test by test. I could already feel a big difference, since I drove the car at the launch in Paul Ricard, and after over 3,000 kilometres completed over the last two months I want to say that the car feels good to drive. Although definitely I think that the recent rule changes in Formula 1 will make things even more challenging."

"I am not too concerned about the introduction of the one-lap qualifying rule to be honest. I have always enjoyed pushing as much as possible on the first lap and I think that this new system could suit me quite well, but it will for sure mix the field up a bit. Maybe the faster cars are not on the front row of the grid and that will make the races more exciting for all of us and the spectators and TV viewers."

"I have driven in 8 Australian GPs in my F1 career, twice at Adelaide and six times at Albert Park. The Melbourne track is one I know quite well. The circuit is used for most of the year as a public road and this makes the track quite dusty on the first day of F1 action. Consequently, you only get one clear racing line in amongst the dust, which means it is easy to make a mistake and lose valuable time, especially when you have to perform in just one-flying lap. My best result was a 5th place back in 1997 and in total I have finished three times at Albert Park in the top eight, but still not good enough for me. I am looking to improve on that this season."

"All in all, I cannot wait to get on the track to make my official race debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing. It has been a busy time since my first test session back in November, but looking at how much has been done and the position we are in now, I have to say it has been worth it. It will be a challenging weekend, but I will do my utmost to pick up some points in Melbourne, which will be a great way to say thanks to everybody in the team in Cologne and to all the people in the Toyota Corporation for their extremely hard work."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis
Teams Toyota Racing