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The Heretic

5 August: The Toyota Formula 1 team have announced today that its third driver Brazilian Ricardo Zonta will replace Cristiano da Matta from the Hungarian Grand Prix. The team wants to give Zonta a chance before finalising their driver line-up for 2005. Ralf Schumacher has already signed for the team however the second seat remains unconfirmed with Trulli and Coulthard being considered in addition to Zonta.
Australian Ryan Briscoe will take over the testing role on Fridays Free Practice.

Ricardo Zonta raced for the BAR team in 2000 and raced for the Jordan team for two races in 2001.

The Toyota team issued a statement that read

"Panasonic Toyota Racing has today announced that its third driver Ricardo Zonta will be promoted to the role of race driver with effect from the upcoming Grand Prix of Hungary. Zonta will replace Cristiano da Matta and race alongside Olivier Panis.

The team's test driver Ryan Briscoe will in turn assume Zonta's role during the race weekend, running the third car during Friday's free practice sessions.

Cristiano da Matta will continue to be employed as a Toyota driver for the remainder of the year and could consequently still be called upon to partake in any driving or marketing-related activities for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team.

Team Principal of Panasonic Toyota Racing, Tsutomu Tomita said: "We revised our original plans after we reviewed the results of the last three Grands Prix. Ricardo Zonta consistently performed very well, as indeed he also did in the first half of the 2004 season. We believe it is fair to offer Ricardo the chance to show his potential in full race conditions, before we enter into the final step of our driver evaluation for the 2005 season. We decided to retain Olivier Panis as a race driver for the rest of this season, based on the fact that he is the driver who has secured the team's best race result of the year so far (5th in Indianapolis) and has collected the higher number of championship points (5). Cristiano da Matta will remain a Panasonic Toyota Racing driver until the end of 2004 and could still be called upon to undertake activities accordingly."

Related Stories:
Ralf Schumacher signs for Toyota for 2005
Olivier Panis retires from Formula 1 Racing but remains with Toyota

Click here for the 2005 Formula 1 Team and Driver Line-up 

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