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Panis plays down Toyota’s chances 05 Mar 2003

Olivier Panis (FRA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 5 March 2003

Despite the speed the new Toyota TF103 has been showing during winter testing - and the praise the car has drawn from rival luminaries such as Patrick Head and Sam Michael of BMW Williams - team leader Olivier Panis has been playing down the team's chances for the three opening 'flyaway' races.

While observers have been calculating Toyota's chances of outpacing BMW Williams for third best team (at least until Williams gets its aerodynamic package sorted out), the Frenchman said: "It might look good to people on the outside, but if the team gets carried away with its apparent pace in testing it could seriously disrupt our development programme for the season.

"We still have a long way to go and it will only be in Melbourne, like everyone else, that we really know how close to the pace we are.

"What we can say is that the engine is very good and the chassis feels good too. The tyres have been performing well in our tests. Everything looks promising. But you have to remember that Toyota is a new team and the changes to the regulations, particularly those that limit the amount of running and set-up time that we have at races, is going to favour those with greater experience."