Ryan Briscoe made his return to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car for the first time in a year when he tested for Panasonic Toyota Racing at Jerez today.
The Australian, a regular test driver for Toyota until 2004, was drafted in as a late replacement for Olivier Panis, who was unwell. Briscoe was making one of his first appearances in a race car since his terrifying accident at Chicago in this year’s Indy Racing League but he reported no ill effects after nearly 80 laps.
Ralf Schumacher put in a solid morning of work on the new TF106, continuing the good start he made with the car at last week’s debut test at Barcelona. But his day was curtailed after lunch when he reported some discomfort in his back. In order not to risk aggravating the problem, the team decided to end his test early. Jarno Trulli will now travel to Jerez to test alongside Briscoe tomorrow.
“Today, as in Barcelona, the new TF106 felt very good to drive and it was very well balanced. We couldn’t get through a huge amount of work, but we took a useful look at some different options for set-up this morning. The engine performed well and the tyres feel good too, but I haven’t yet completed a full tyre test so I will have a better idea after that. It’s a pity we had to finish this test early, but we are pleased with how the work is going on the new car so far.”
“Apart from one day in an F3 car, this is my first time back in a race car since my IRL accident and it feels great. I only found out two days ago that I would be driving so it was a bit of a surprise call. But I did about 80 laps today with no physical problems at all so I’m really happy. It was good fun to be back behind the wheel of an F1 car again. There’s nothing like it. I know everyone in Toyota’s test team and they are good people to work with so I felt really comfortable out there. I’m glad to be of help to the team and I’ve enjoyed getting the feel of the new car.
“It didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things and we did some work on tyre pressures and temperatures. We didn’t quite finish the programme because of an engine failure at the end of the day but we got most of it done and I’m happy with the first day of work.”
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director Chassis
“Today was a productive first day of testing. Ryan’s programme was mainly set-up work, running on the reference tyre and getting used to driving a F1 car again after driving in America for the last year. Ralf was pretty pleased with the car and the balance and he looked very competitive this morning. Unfortunately he aggravated a minor back injury which meant the team decided to cut his testing short. It’s not a major problem but it was causing him some discomfort and we did not want to make the problem worse. The only mechanical problem was Ryan’s engine failure at the end of the day. This was an engine that had already done a lot of miles, so it’s not a particular concern. Overall our first impressions of our new package continue to look positive.”