Panasonic Toyota Racing began its three-day test at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez in Spain today with a new combination of drivers as 2007 third driver Franck Montagny was joined by Toyota Young Driver Programme rising star Kohei Hirate. Montagny will join Toyota full-time in January but took the opportunity to become more familiar with the team, bringing his wealth of experience to a test which focused on increasing the team's understanding of the 2007 Bridgestone tyres. In contrast, Hirate was taking part in his first full Formula 1 test and spent the morning learning about the car. The 20-year-old made his debut soon after the track opened, driving out of the garage at 9.07am on a circuit still damp from overnight rain. During the course of the morning he worked on getting used to a Formula 1 car, with minor adjustments to make him comfortable in the cockpit, before getting the chance to spend longer on the track. Hirate's first timed laps put him alongside more experie nced drivers on the timing sheets and he improved steadily throughout the afternoon, helping the team gather data in the process.
Franck Montagny - Chassis TF106B/09
Best Lap Time: 1m20.398s
Total laps: 96
Total distance: 425.1kms
"It was not a bad day. I was in this car last at Silverstone in September so it has been a long time. This morning it was wet and therefore a little bit difficult to run through our programme but we did find some interesting things. We worked on the set-up of the car and in the afternoon we were the first ones to put on the dry, grooved tyres. It was quite a good experience to test these new tyres and get a feeling for them, even though on this circuit it was a little challenging because of the track conditions this morning. We followed our programme and we did a good job - the car was quite quick today."
Kohei Hirate - Chassis TF106B/07
Best Lap Time: 1m21.424s
Total laps: 73
Total distance: 323.2kms
"It was very good day and it was a fantastic experience, a lot of fun. The car is very fast and physically it is harder to drive than the cars I am used to driving, it requires a lot of effort. I am happy to get the chance to work with the Formula 1 team and I think we did a good job. I didn't make any mistakes during the test session. We tried different set-ups and found a good set-up for the car. We have done a good job and now I am looking forward to getting the chance to test again."
Dieter Gass, Chief Engineer Race and Test "Once the circuit had dried out, which actually took quite a long time today, we were able to work on the 2007 tyres. We had quite a productive day with no major issues on either car. The team got a lot of things done and we were quite satisfied with the day's work. Kohei had a very good first day I would say, he made no mistakes and he set quite a good lap time which we are quite pleased with. Frank was back in the car for the first time since September and as expected he did a solid job and set a competitive lap time in the afternoon.