Panis Delighted to be Back in Action

Formula One veteran Olivier Panis was delighted to be back in the spotlight after driving Toyota's third car in today's practice sessions

Panis Delighted to be Back in Action

Sunday's race will be the first French Grand Prix in 40 years without a French driver but Panis provided a local flavour by replacing Brazilian Ricardo Zonta in the third Toyota for a one off.

Panis, the last Frenchman to race in Formula One before he retired last season, was seventh and sixth quickest in the sessions.

"I'm very happy to return to the track for Friday testing at the French Grand Prix," said the Frenchman. "I enjoyed myself a lot, having a bit of fun with my former colleagues. I did the job that the team asked me to do without any problems, including the long runs, and it was fantastic out there.

"The team looks pretty good compared with last year, too. I can feel improvements in the way the team works, with everyone extremely calm and productive, and I'd like to thank them for giving me this chance today. Now I'll go back my job as test driver for the programme I have for the coming months."

Toyota's Jarno Trulli, who took the team's first Formula One pole position at Indianapolis but then did not race, failed to set a timed lap in the morning but was eighth in the second stint. Teammate Ralf Schumacher finished in ninth.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne said the team have enjoyed a trouble-free day and was happy with Panis' work.

"We had no problems on any of the cars, and we have all the information we need to make a decision on the tyres, so that was a good day for the team," said Gascoyne. "It was good to have Olivier with us for the French Grand Prix. I think he enjoyed his day, completing his tyre evaluation programme.

"He was pretty happy with the handling of the car, as were the two race drivers. Jarno and Ralf both worked through their programmes too. Now we just have to carefully evaluate the data for the tyre choice and aim for another finish on the podium."

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