Zonta: happy as Toyota third driver

This year will be Ricardo Zonta's second consecutive season as Panasonic Toyota Racing's third driver. Having raced for two different teams since Ricardo graduated to Formula 1 in 1999, he was snapped up by the team at the beginning of 2003 and,...

This year will be Ricardo Zonta's second consecutive season as Panasonic Toyota Racing's third driver.

Having raced for two different teams since Ricardo graduated to Formula 1 in 1999, he was snapped up by the team at the beginning of 2003 and, after surpassing everyone's expectations last year, he will continue to be a member of the Toyota family in 2004.

Ricardo Zonta.
Photo by Toyota Racing.
The job of third driver is one of great importance to Panasonic Toyota Racing. As well as attending all of the Grands Prix as reserve driver, in case either Olivier Panis or Cristiano Da Matta is unable to race, he will also spearhead the development of this year's TF104.

Ricardo will have additional support in 2004. As well as testing alongside regular race drivers Panis and Da Matta, Australian Ryan Briscoe, who dominated the Euro F3 series last year, will again be on hand to assist Ricardo with some of the all-important TF104 testing duties during the year to ease the workload.

"I am very happy to be starting my second season as Panasonic Toyota Racing's third driver," says Ricardo. "We have a very extensive test programme this year and I am looking forward to the challenge of testing and improving our package."

With there being eight 'fly-away' races this year (those held outside Europe), Ricardo is sure to mount up lots of air miles as he rushes home between races to go testing, but it is a challenge he relishes.

"If you didn't like to travel, you wouldn't be involved with F1. There is no greater pleasure than enjoying a successful test session and then witnessing the benefits of the hard work at the next race."

Ricardo has participated in 32 Formula 1 races in his racing career and he believes that this experience has provided him with the necessary skills to develop Panasonic Toyota Racing into a leading team in the future.

"At Toyota, we are still learning things every time we visit a race track, but as we get more and more kilometres behind us, it is clear to see that the whole team is becoming more professional, more able and working increasingly well together. I get on very well with Olivier and Cristiano, and I am sure that in 2004 we will be in a position to demonstrate our real capabilities, to get the results and to reduce the gap to the leading teams."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Ricardo Zonta , Ryan Briscoe
Teams Toyota Racing