Toyota try out new talent at Jerez 15 Oct 2004
Toyota used this weeks Jerez session to give two of their Driver Academy members their first full Formula One test. Frenchman Franck Perera and Japanese driver Katsuyuki Hiranaka both got a day in the TF104, having recently carried out straight-line work with the team at Italy's Vairano circuit.
Perera, rookie of the year in this seasons Formula Three Euroseries, clocked up 72 laps of Jerez on Tuesday, with a best of 1m 19.695s, putting him eighth in the timesheets, just two places and a little over a second behind Toyota race driver Ricardo Zonta.
"It's always been my dream to drive a Formula One car, so Tuesday was an exciting day for me, said the 20 year-old. I tested in Vairano a fortnight ago but that was only a straight line. So, while I could learn about the controls and the speed of an F1 car there, this was my first chance to drive on a normal track.
It was a big change from what I'm used to in Formula 3 - especially the braking and the speed into fast corners, and I could certainly feel it in my neck. I'd never been to Jerez either and it's not an easy track with a lot of bumps. But I feel the day went well, and I was happy to have a chance to learn and to help the team with their wheel and damper tests."
Hiranaka, a veteran of Formula Toyota in his native Japan and also competing in the F3 Euroseries this year, took over from Perera on Wednesday. Just over 50 laps of the Spanish circuit saw him record a best time of 1m 20.866s.
"My test on Wednesday was the first time I have driven a Formula One car on a circuit, and I really enjoyed it, he said. I came to Europe two years ago with the ambition of driving an F1 car, so it is a dream come true. I didn't push too hard because F1 takes a bit of getting used to and you have to take things step by step, but it was a lot of fun and I completed my programme of work on brake ducts and aerodynamics.
I already knew the F1 gearshift, clutch, throttle and brakes from our straight-line test at Vairano, but driving round corners was a new experience. I now feel confident with the slow speed sections, though I still have to get used to the quicker corners. It's very different from F3, with more G than I'm used to. Indeed, it felt slow to drive an F3 at Hockenheim after the Vairano test and to brake much earlier too. But now I've had the chance to drive the car I know how hard F1 is both physically and mentally."
Regular Toyota tester Ryan Briscoe took over the second car alongside Zonta for the final day of the teams programme on Thursday.