MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YAW...
Panasonic Toyota Racing completed its final test of 2005 in Jerez today. After the longest F1 race season in history and a similarly busy test programme, the Christmas tree was up and the test team enjoyed a 'dry' party on Wednesday night to put everyone in festive spirit. But it was straight back to work at 7am today to conduct more set-up and tyre evaluation as the team continues its work with new supplier Bridgestone.
Much of the schedule centred around experimentation with different aerodynamic set-ups in order to optimise the TF106 chassis performance on Bridgestone tyres. This final test of the year was also important for collecting as much V8 engine data as possible, so that the engine department can make final decisions on parts with longer manufacturing lead times in preparation for the first Grand Prix of the 2006 season in Bahrain on March 12.
Ricardo Zonta drove for all three days of the test in one of the two TF106 chassis in Spain. He was joined for a day and a half each by Olivier Panis, fit again after treatment for a kidney stone, and young Franck Perera, who has been part of Toyota's young driver programme since 2001.
Perera completed the necessary 300kms to be eligible for an F1 Super Licence and enjoyed gaining more experience of both an F1 car and working with the Toyota team. Although Perera has conducted pre-race shakedown tests for the team, this was only his second full F1 test and he last drove the V10 car some 14 months ago.
"I think we have learned quite a lot over the three days and confirmed that we are heading in the right direction. We did some tyre tests today and some long runs, which are important for the team. We collected a lot of data although we did not change the set-up much today."
"We were not going for lap times, just concentrating on the tyre programme. The track conditions were changing quite a lot and there were a lot of interruptions for red-flag periods, so it was hard to have the consistent conditions you need for meaningful testing."
"It's nice to be back in business driving again and the team is working well. I just did a couple of runs in dry conditions on Wednesday and then a full day today. The new car is looking good and the V8 engine has improved a lot compared to the last time I tested it. The package is very driveable and I think we are in good shape."
"There is always a lot of work to do when you change tyre supplier and we will continue working hard with Bridgestone in the new year. I also had a chance to try the Bridgestone wet tyres when it rained lightly on Wednesday and they were unbelievable, really quick. You felt almost like you were on dry tyres! I am really positive about the car and I did a lot of laps today with some very reasonable times."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer:
"Overall I think we can be happy with the test. We now understand more about the tyres and we have proved that the development of the car is at a good stage. We had some small mechanical problems throughout but nothing to worry about and nothing unusual."
"Both Olivier and Ricardo had good tests and worked through our programme. I think Franck, for a first time in the TF106, did well. He was a little bit unlucky to be hampered by some technical matters on Thursday and without that I think we might have seen even more from him."
Ricardo Zonta - Chassis TF106/02
Best Thursday lap time: 1m20.035s
Total laps: 106
Total distance: 469.368kms
Olivier Panis - Chassis TF106/01
Best Thursday lap time: 1m20.342s
Total laps: 93
Total distance: 411.804kms