Panasonic Toyota Racing took to the skies to mark the start of the new Formula 1 season in acrobatic style in Melbourne this week.
Franck Montagny’s high-flying antics capped a busy build up to the Australian Grand Prix for the team, which is preparing to start its sixth season in Formula 1 as Toyota celebrates 50 years in motorsport.
Daring third driver Franck took a passenger ride with the Royal Australian Air Force Roulette aerobatic team. Just a day after winning a fitness competition with Aussie rules football ace Brendan Fevola, Franck was taken high above Albert Park in a stomach-churning series of rolls and loops but as the onboard photographs show, he was having fun.
As well as Franck’s adventures, race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli were busy welcoming the start of a new season with several events in and around the city of Melbourne.
Ralf ventured away from the bustle of Melbourne to try his hand at driving of a different kind, with a 4x4 adventure at rustic Werribee Park at the wheel of a Toyota LC Prado.
He may be more used to driving on the smooth surfaces of a Formula 1 track but Ralf still showed his driving skills on a course used by local police to test their drivers in the toughest of conditions.
Reigning Australian rally champion Simon Evans was on hand to offer advice but Ralf quickly pushed the LC Prado to the limit, easily dealing with a river obstacle and other hazards.
There were no such perils facing Ralf on his next challenge when he dashed to the Esprit superstore in central Melbourne for a shopping trip with Panasonic Toyota Racing’s new official suppliers.
Jarno also sampled some four-wheeled fun when he visited the former home of motorsport in Melbourne, Calder Park, to test a Toyota TRD Aurion. After three-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates showed off the specially-tuned TRD Aurion, Jarno himself took the wheel to impress the gathered media with the car’s performance.
On Thursday morning, Jarno was behind the wheel of something a little smaller at a karting event with Aussie rules football stars. After demonstrating how it should be done, Jarno gave the footie players some expert advice on getting the most out of a kart at the challenging Go Kart Club of Victoria circuit.
Today, Ralf did his bit for the environment when he attended a press conference for the Think Before You Drive campaign, backed by Bridgestone and the FIA Foundation, to stress the environmental impact of under-inflated tyres
Next up is the serious business of the Australian Grand Prix and Ralf and Jarno will return to their day jobs tomorrow at Albert Park, the circuit where both made their Grand Prix debuts 10 years ago.