Japanese squad finalise their 2005 driver line-up
As widely predicted, Jarno Trulli is to become Ralf Schumachers team mate at Toyota next season. Trulli, who left Renault earlier this week, will make his test debut for the Japanese team at Silverstone today (Thursday).
According to Toyota, the 30-year-old Italian signed a two-year contract at their motorsport headquarters in Cologne on Tuesday (September 14), the day before his departure from Renault was announced.
"It is no secret that we have been speaking with Jarno Trulli for some time about the possibility for him to join Panasonic Toyota Racing, but contrary to recent reports, we have only finalised contractual details this week, revealed team principal Tsutomu Tomita.
Jarno has really shown his maturity and all-round talent this season, both in qualifying and in races, and we believe that he will be the perfect team-mate to Ralf at Toyota from next season. On that note, I would like to set the record straight early and stress that there are no driver orders at Toyota; Ralf and Jarno will have equal number one status with us.
Toyota also confirmed that Ricardo Zonta will be staying on with the team as third driver. The Brazilian will carry out testing duties alongside Olivier Panis, who recently announced he is to retire from racing at the end of this season.
Along with Olivier, Ricardo has demonstrated a strong commitment and motivation to the team over the last two years, said Tomita. I firmly believe that both Olivier and Ricardo will excel in test and development roles with Toyota. With Ralf, Jarno, Olivier and Ricardo, I think that Panasonic Toyota Racing will have one of the strongest driver line-ups in Formula One for next season."
Toyotas Australian tester Ryan Briscoe will still be contracted to the team in 2005, but will not be a regular race or test driver. He will, however, continue to receive support from the team as he looks to find a race seat for next year.