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Zonta excited about new Renault test seat 06 Sep 2006

Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006

Brazilian keen to capitalize on Bridgestone experience

Hot on the heels of Renault’s announcement that he will join the team in 2007 as test driver, Ricardo Zonta has described his delight at the move.

“I am very excited about joining Renault, and about what I can bring to the team,” said Zonta in a statement on his official website. “For me, the prospect of driving a world champion car is a big motivation, and to join a team that is winning races.”

The Brazilian is one of the most experienced drivers in Formula One racing, having spent eight years as both test driver and racer for teams including McLaren, Jordan and BAR. His best result was with BAR in the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, when he fought his way from 16th on the grid to finish sixth.

Since 2003 Zonta has been a test driver with Toyota, who this season have been running Bridgestone tyres. Bridgestone will supply all the teams in 2007 and Zonta’s experience of the Japanese company’s rubber should prove invaluable to Renault as they adjust to the departure of Michelin.

“I have had four very good years at Toyota, and learned a lot during the last 12 months as we made the transition to Bridgestone tyres,” explained Zonta. “That involved a lot of changes to the car and a lot of work to understand the character of the tyres. It is a process Renault will have to go through next year, and I think I can bring that knowledge to them.”

Renault will have an all-Brazilian test line-up next year, with Zonta joined by up-and-coming GP2 star Nelson Piquet Jr. Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will be in charge of race duties.