Olivier Panis Q&A

This week, Olivier Panis kicks off a new chapter in his career when he tests for Toyota for the first time. Team-mate Cristiano da Matta is unable to bring any Formula 1 experience to the party, so the Frenchman will be able to make a huge contribution to the development of the team as it heads into its second year. Only Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and David Coulthard have started more grands prix - Panis lost ground on the last two with his year of McLaren testing - but with Eddie Irvine currently on the sidelines, Olivier will become the oldest driver in the F1 field. Adam Cooper asked for his thoughts about his new challenge and his spell at BAR

Olivier Panis Q&A



"I'm really happy to work with Toyota. I know we have a lot to do, but I feel really positive in what they've been doing this year and what they'll do next year. They are very motivated people, and it's a big organisation. The winter testing will be very important for us, because it's very important that I learn the team quickly and I use the car as much as I can. And after that I want to learn all about the new car and all this stuff. I'm really positive and I'm really looking forward to it."



"That's why I feel quite positive about Toyota. They are doing the engine and the chassis side together, like Ferrari, and Ferrari are managing to do both very, very well. Maybe that's why they have such a big advantage. Toyota are trying to do the same thing, and for the first year they had really good reliability engine and gearbox wise. The car had a really good performance sometimes in qualifying and races. OK, it was up and down a little bit, but I think this is because the team needs experience. But they did quite a good job for the first year, considering they were making everything new. They still have to improve chassis-wise, but I am really positive about Gustav Brunner. I'm sure he will do a good job."



"I want to say I am really happy. I've had two years with BAR, because we worked very well together. I have some good relationships with everybody and I pushed really hard to help them. But at the end of the day sure I'm a little bit disappointed by the results in general, because I went there to make some points and maybe some podiums, but we didn't have the car for that during these two years. I did my best, which is why I want to leave quite positive."



"No. I respect what Craig was doing in the team. He started with a white page with BAT. Now there's not been enough time for David to prove himself. He changed a lot of things, and it's difficult to prove something when we had the car we had this year. It's not easy, so maybe he needs more time to prove something. But I don't feel a big difference, really."



"It was really not. In the first year we learned to work together, and I had a very good relationship with Jacques and Craig. Everybody worked very well with the team. I heard about the past, and that Ricardo [Zonta] had complained a little bit. Last year I didn't see anything like this, and this year also. I feel everybody did their best to make two cars the same. Maybe when Ricardo was there it was something different, but I don't know. When I was there, everybody played the game. But in the last two races Jacques was using some different pieces to me, because there were some new developments for next year. I completely understand because I was leaving and Jacques is staying for next year, and it's normal, because they have just enough stuff for one car. That's why the last few races were a little bit difficult, but I accepted it, because I have a very good relationship with Jacques and he's a very good driver."



"First of all the car was not good enough. Aerodynamically the team needs a big step for next year, but also mechanically in terms of suspension. Also we had a lot of problems with the Honda engine when we started the season, in terms of reliability and power. But I respect a lot the Honda job this year, because they improved the engine quite a lot during the season. At the end of the season it was quite a good engine, but definitely they have to continue to work hard to reduce the weight for next year if they want to make another step forward."



"I really trust Geoff Willis. I think he's the guy BAR needs for the future. He's doing a very good job with the team. He's changed some people in the factory, and I'm sure next year's car is definitely much better. But also Honda has to continue to work really hard to improve the engine."



"Yes, it was a very good race for us, because the team needed points, and it was good for both Jacques and me to finish in the points and to be there. This is why I'm really positive about Silverstone. After we got the new Geoff Willis package we got more reliability, we worked quite well, and we got better and better. The team - the mechanics, the engineers, the pit stop staff, the team did a very good job. They have a really good race team. Now they need a quicker car to really start improving many things."

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