Panasonic Toyota Racing started its final test of 2005 before the Christmas break at Jerez today. Following a one day rest after extensive wet weather testing on an artificially soaked track on Sunday, Ricardo Zonta was back in the cockpit again. The Brazilian was joined by young Frenchman Franck Perera, as member of Toyota's Young Driver Programme. Perera was having his second full test with Toyota after conducting six of the regular pre-race 50km shakedown tests for the team between June and October 2005.
With Jerez experiencing the coldest weather so far in winter testing, it was just 2 degrees Celsius at the 9am start time and consequently it was a while before temperatures rose enough for the teams to conduct meaningful work. After an initial wait, therefore, Zonta got down to some serious set-up experimentation.
Ricardo Zonta – Chassis TF106/02
Best lap time: 1m20.061s
Total laps: 92
Total distance: 407.376kms
"When we got running properly it was a successful day and we concentrated mainly on looking at the effect of different weight distributions on the way that the car uses the Bridgestone tyres. We also did some work with compounds. I must say I am getting used to the V8 car now, it is responsive, and we established a good neutral set-up. We also changed many things and learned a lot, with no technical problems all day."
LICENCED TO THRILL
Franck Perera has been a member of the Toyota Young Driver Programme since 2001. Now 21, Perera will move up from Formula 3 into the competitive GP2 series in 2006. The aim at Jerez is for Franck to gain more mileage and further his working relationship with the team, as well as hopefully achieving the 300kms of testing necessary to qualify for an F1 Super Licence. He will continue in the TF106 tomorrow.
Franck Perera – Chassis TF106/01
Best lap time: 1m21.337s
Total laps: 60
Total distance: 265.68kms
"It was a pretty good day except that I made a small mistake in Turn 10 this morning. I took a little bit too much kerb, lost the back end and hit the tyre barrier very lightly. That cost us a couple of hours while the car was brought back and repaired. Then, at the very end, I lost control in Turn 5 and had a quick spin but there was no damage. We had made quite a big modification to the car so maybe that was the reason. Apart from that it was a good day and the car was getting better all the time. There was a lot for me to learn and take in - the engine, the tyres and everything was pretty different from what I experienced a year ago!"
Gerd Pfeiffer (Test Team Manager): "At first it was too cold to achieve a lot but when conditions improved we worked through a full schedule with Ricardo and had a good day with no concerns. With Franck, it was more about the chance for him to gain some more experience and for us to evaluate him a little more and see what kind of feedback he can give to the engineers. He had a couple of small incidents, the first at Turn 10 in the morning, when we changed the nose and the left rear suspension. But Franck should not be too hard on himself about losing time. By the end of the day he was driving well and doing very reasonable times."