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Toyota taking right steps, says Zonta

1 January 1901


Toyota third driver, Ricardo Zonta has said that the Cologne based team confirmed this week that they are heading in the right direction.

Toyota completed its final test of 2005 in Jerez on Thursday, after the longest F1 race season in history and a similarly busy test programme.

Much of the schedule centred around experimentation with different aerodynamic set-ups in order to optimise the performance of the new TF106 on Bridgestone tyres. The final test of the year was also important for collecting as much V8 engine data as possible, so that Toyota's engine department can make final decisions on parts with longer manufacturing lead times in preparation for the first race of the 2006 season in Bahrain on March 12.

"I think we have learned quite a lot and confirmed that we are heading in the right direction," said the Brazilian.

"We did some tyre tests Thursday and some long runs, which are important for the team. We collected a lot of data although we did not change the set-up much Thursday. We were not going for lap times, just concentrating on the tyre programme. The track conditions were changing quite a lot and there were a lot of interruptions for red-flag periods, so it was hard to have the consistent conditions you need for meaningful testing."

Zonta drove for all three days of the test in one of the two new TF106's. He was joined for a day and a half each by Olivier Panis, fit again after treatment for a kidney stone, and young Franck Perera, who has been part of Toyota's young driver programme since 2001. Perera completed the necessary 300kms to be eligible for an F1 Super Licence and enjoyed gaining more experience of both an F1 car and working with the Toyota team.

"Overall I think we can be happy with the test," concluded Dieter Gass, Toyota's chief race engineer. "We now understand more about the tyres and we have proved that the development of the car is at a good stage. We had some small mechanical problems throughout but nothing to worry about and nothing unusual.

"Both Olivier and Ricardo had good tests and worked through our programme. I think Franck [Perera], for a first time in the TF106, did well. He was a little bit unlucky to be hampered by some technical matters on Thursday and without that I think we might have seen even more from him."


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