THE END OF AN ERA
Panasonic Toyota Racing's work on track in 2006 came to an end with the last day of testing at Jerez. The day was a special occasion, not only because it marked the end of a long year of testing but also because it was the last appearance for Olivier Panis in Formula 1.
Despite suffering from a cold which he caught ice racing, the 40-year-old test driver joined race driver Jarno Trulli on track today to add his vast experience to the work on next season's Bridgestone tyres. Repairs on a small issue in the morning caused a slight delay but he soon got back to work for one last time in a Formula 1 car.
Unfortunately, he had to finish his final test early as he was not well enough to drive in the afternoon and Kohei Hirate was drafted in to take over. Hirate quickly resumed where he left off on Tuesday and tried out various set-ups on the new tyres. Toyota's testing programme for this year has now ended and the next date in the team's diary is the pre-season event in Cologne, Germany on 12 January.
"It has been a very productive test and we have been able to do a lot of laps without any real trouble. We now understand a lot more about our car and these tyres, the good points and the not so good points. Over the winter we will work hard to find a good package and learn how to get the best out of these tyres. We have a lot of work to do before the start of the season but the tests here and at Barcelona have helped us. We will now spend the winter looking at the data and trying to find a good set-up so we can have a good season in 2007."
"It was my last day in Formula 1 and I am sure I will miss it but eventually you have to make this decision. I have enjoyed my time in Formula 1, driving these cars, and I have enjoyed my time with Toyota. The team has always been good to me and it has been a great pleasure to work with them. But now is the right time for a change."
"Even though this was my last time in a Formula 1 car, it was still a normal day of testing and in the time I had in the car, we worked on learning about the new tyres for next season. I picked up a cold last weekend and I did not feel good today. It's a shame I could not finish the day but that's unfortunately the way it goes sometimes."
"It was good to have a chance to drive in Formula 1 again. I was working on the tyres and it was good to see the difference between the set-ups because I started with Olivier's set-up and I was able to compare it with what I did on Tuesday. I went back to the set-up I had and, for me, the car felt better. I have been here for three days and I have learnt quite a lot of things. I am very happy to have had the chance to be with the team and I hope to come back again soon."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis:
"Today was quite an unusual day to finish the year with. Jarno was able to do a lot of running which was quite productive, and he set several very competitive lap times as well. He had to stop at the end of the session with a hydraulic issue but it was so late in the day it did not really alter our programme. Unfortunately for Olivier he had a slight delay this morning when a part inside the fuel tank had to be repaired and then we decided to put Kohei in the car as Olivier was suffering from a cold."
Best lap time: 1m19.480s
Total laps: 92
Total distance: 407.3kms
Best lap time: 1m20.400s
Total laps: 27
Total distance: 119.5kms
Best lap time: 1m20.970s
Total laps: 28
Total distance: 123.9kms