Toyota official test and third driver Ricard Zonta reviews the 2005 season
Q: How would you rate Toyota's season overall?
Ricardo Zonta: I think it was a very big improvement from last year. This year was a lot more enjoyable for everyone working in the team. Scoring a podium in the second race really boosted everyone's motivation. Also, having a good car on a Friday and fighting with McLaren and always being quickest or second quickest was motivating for me. We could all see how quick the McLaren was and to be close or sometimes quicker meant a lot.
Q: What were your personal highs and lows?
RZ: Sometimes we had problems with the balance or some mechanical issues but generally it was a good year. There are still things to improve but compared to '04 it was a lot better.
Q: Do you still get satisfaction from testing or do you miss racing?
RZ: Of course racing is completely different from testing but what is nice about Fridays is driving at different race circuits. You enjoy it more than just going to a test circuit and doing a lot of laps.
Q: When you do 120 laps in a day at a test, how do you ensure you are being consistent enough to provide reliable data?
RZ: On the long runs you drive at 99% all the time. I don't say 100% because when you do that you can make a small mistake and maybe compromise what you are testing. Maybe it's more like 99.5% than 99%. So you go quickly but you have enough margins not to make mistakes.
Q: How do you cope with the track being faster at different times of the day?
RZ: We always have a plan and we can also factor in the circuit conditions from our previous data. In the early morning and the late afternoon the track is at its quickest, but actual lap time is not really important. When it is the slowest time of the day, that's when we concentrate on tyre comparisons or long runs. Because that's when you have the highest temperatures and you can see any wear problems with the tyres.
Q: What was the most running you did on one day this year?
RZ: I think I ran 150 or 160 laps in one day at a test.
Q: Does it sometimes feel too much?
RZ: It varies. Sometimes you test some things and you do 50 laps in a day and it's not enjoyable. But sometimes you can do 130 laps and you are so busy testing things that are important to improving the car that you don't actually feel all the laps you are doing because you get so into the programme. Sometimes it can be boring, like when you are collecting data rather than actually improving the car.
Q: Is it physical?
RZ: It can be, yes. I have a doctor and dietician at tests and it is important to have proper massages between stints in the car and to eat properly. You can be in the car all morning, for four hours without getting out. If you don't have a good breakfast or a good lunch before long runs -- and you might do three or four in a row -- after two days of testing, 300 laps, with a race simulation on the last day, if you haven't eaten and exercised properly either you are going to make mistakes or you're not going to finish. You see so many drivers making mistakes at tests, going into the gravel and so on, but I think at Toyota we do a good professional job and get through the programme with very few incidents.