Toyota heading in positive direction

Toyota heading in positive direction

Olivier Panis believes Toyota is heading in a positive direction and hopes to see some rewards in 2004 for the work the team has done this year. The Frenchman had his best ever qualifying for four years at Indianapolis, with third on the grid, but...

Olivier Panis believes Toyota is heading in a positive direction and hopes to see some rewards in 2004 for the work the team has done this year. The Frenchman had his best ever qualifying for four years at Indianapolis, with third on the grid, but unfortunately the weather intervened and Panis didn't finish the race. However, he thinks his grid position showed real improvement for the team.

Olivier Panis.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
"The US qualifying result was genuine," Panis told ITV-F1. "Our original strategy in Indianapolis was to come in for our first stop on lap 19 or 20, so we had qualified with a lot more of fuel on board than many people though. In this respect, we can say that 3rd was achieved purely as a result of the good work done by the team and the overall competitiveness of the car at that track."

2003 is Panis's first season with Toyota and although it's not been stellar, the progress has been steady. "I think that the team has made good progress throughout 2003 and this has been reflected in our overall level of performance," he said.

"Not only with the car, but also in the way that we operate as a team. Although some race weekends have been disappointing in terms of results, we have shown that we are heading in a positive direction."

Panis and teammate Cristiano da Matta have both been retained by Toyota for 2004 and Olivier is happy to continue with a team that he feels has big ambitions. "I'm very happy to continue with the team, because I feel the future of Toyota is quite really good," he explained.

"We have put in a lot of work this year to improve the car and I am looking forward to seeing the rewards of this next season. I'm pleased to continue also with Cristiano, because he's a good teammate."

Toyota is currently eighth in the Constructors' standings but only a few points behind midfield rivals BAR, Jaguar and Sauber. Panis's highest race finish so far has been fifth, in Germany, and although a win is not likely early next season, he hopes it won't be too long in coming.

"We are not yet in a position to win grands prix or challenge for the championship," Panis said. "We are continuing to make good progress and I hope we can win as soon as possible, but it takes time."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Sauber