Two drivers at the opposite ends of their F1 careers did the running for Panasonic Toyota Racing as the team began its preparations for 2007 at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya today. At the wheel of one TF106B was Kamui Kobayashi of the Toyota Young Drivers Program, enjoying his first day of F1 testing. The 20-year-old winner of the Rookie Cup in the 2006 F3 Euro series and pole sitter at this month's Macau GP spent his day getting used to the car and putting in mileage on various systems. In the other car was Olivier Panis, 20 years older than Kobayashi and conducting one of his last days of testing for Toyota before he retires from F1 at the end of 2006. Olivier concentrated on the Bridgestone tyres that the team will use in 2007. Showers interrupted the morning session but the afternoon was dry and both drivers were able to put in some good running. The Toyota team will continue its Barcelona test tomorrow with race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli.
Olivier Panis – Chassis TF106/09B
Best lap time: 1m17.643s
Total laps: 78
Total distance: 368.9km
"Following the morning rain the track was damp and the conditions were not ideal, but after that everything went smoothly and we could start investigating the new Bridgestone tyres. From what we can tell so far they are very consistent and there are no warm-up issues. Obviously they are harder than the tyres we have been running during 2006 so there is less grip than what we have been used to. But it is the same for everyone and the fact that everyone is now on the same tyres is good because it means we have a level playing field. This tyre will be a good basis for everyone to begin their work for 2007 and now it is up to us to build up our package to make the most of it. I am next scheduled to return for my final test with Toyota in F1 at Jerez in a fortnight's time."
Kamui Kobayashi – Chassis TF106/07B
Best Lap Time: 1m20.731s
Total laps: 81
Total distance: 383.1km
"I am obviously delighted that Panasonic Toyota Racing has given me the chance to test the Formula 1 car here as part of my role in the Toyota Young Drivers Program. Today was my first F1 test and it was a very enjoyable experience. Everything is completely different from the Formula 3 cars that I have been driving this year – especially the power of the engine and the braking – so I have to concentrate harder than ever. I made a mistake just before lunch and went off but there was no damage and we were able to put in a lot of laps without any other problems. The G-forces are a lot stronger than I have been used to, but my neck doesn't feel too bad so far. Of course, that's only one day and I'm sure I will have to train harder to be able to cope with the forces over longer periods. I still have a long way to go to improve but overall it was a good day. I am next scheduled to test the car next week at Jerez so I look forward to gaining some more experience of F1 there."
Gerd Pfeiffer, Test Team Manager
"Kamui did well today because he had to learn the circuit as well as the handling of the car. He put in a lot of laps and he was very careful in the car and always aware of the other competitors on the track. Both he and Olivier put in mileage on the gearbox and engine and they looked at different weight distributions and software. Of course, the main focus of this week's test is to try out the new Bridgestone tyres which we will use in 2007 but it is still too early to judge how the rubber performs. We need consistent conditions to compare and contrast tyres and today the circuit was never really stable enough to draw any real conclusions. Tomorrow we will have the race drivers in the cockpit and we will use the track time to get a clearer picture about the new tyres and how we can get the package to work at its best."