Zonta ready for Toyota debut

Ricardo Zonta returns to the grand prix grid for the first time in two years at Hungary this weekend as he takes over the Toyota seat of fellow Brazilian Cristiano da Matta in Hungary

Zonta has been promoted from his Friday testing role to evaluate him ahead of next season as the Japanese team searches for a team-mate for Ralf Schumacher.

"I am very happy to have been given the chance to race for Toyota," said Zonta. "This season has been highly positive for me and I have been very pleased with the job I have done as third driver. My last race was in Hockenheim back in 2001, but racing is in my blood and it gives me a real motivation boost.

"The Hungarian GP will be a weekend of firsts for me; my first as a Toyota race driver, my first in the new TF104B chassis and my debut on the new format Hungaroring. We conducted some encouraging Michelin tyre tests at Jerez prior to Hockenheim especially for this race, so all in all, I am in an optimistic frame of mind."

Zonta's place as Friday tester has been taken by former German Formula 3 champion Ryan Briscoe, who has been the team's second test driver.

"I am really looking forward to making my race weekend debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing in Hungary," said Briscoe. "I have been part of the Toyota family since the start of 2001 when I joined the Toyota Drivers Academy, as it is now known. The hard work I have put in over the past three years through junior racing formulae and subsequently as a Toyota F1 test driver has now come to fruition.

"Whilst the pressure will undoubtedly be heightened as part of the race team, it is an excellent opportunity for me to show what I am capable of in front of a much bigger audience. I raced at the Hungaroring in 2001 and although the layout has changed slightly since then, I hope to get straight down to business on Friday morning with Michelin tyre evaluation. I can't wait to get started."

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