Da Matta out, Zonta in at Toyota

Toyota has replaced Cristiano da Matta with test driver Ricardo Zonta for the remaining six races of the Formula 1 season, the team has confirmed. The outfit's test driver Ryan Briscoe will assume Zonta's role and will run the third car during Friday's practice sessions

Da Matta out, Zonta in at Toyota

Team boss Tsutomu Tomita said the team has been impressed with Zonta's performance this year and decided to give the Brazilian an opportunity to prove himself in a race. Tomita added that da Matta was dropped in favour of team-mate Olivier Panis because the Frenchman had performed better than the Brazilian throughout the season.

"We revised our original plans after the results of the last three grands prix," Tomita said. "Zonta has performed very well, and it is fair to offer him the chance to show his potential in full race conditions.

"We decided to retain Panis as a race driver for the rest of this season, based on the fact that he is the driver who has secured the team's best race result of the year so far. And has collected the higher number of championship points. Da Matta will remain a Toyota driver until the end of 2004 and could still be called upon to undertake activities accordingly."

Zonta has a decent amount of F1 experience having raced for BAR in 1999 and 2000 and drove in two races for Jordan in 2001.

Da Matta was expected to leave at the end of the year having expressed his disillusionment with F1 over the past few months. He is likely to return to America where he dominated the Champ Car scene two years ago.

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