Olivier Panis to Retire
As reported by F1 Racing-live, Olivier Panis will retire from his position as Toyota’s test driver at the end of the year. He is hoping to race in other formulae but has decided that F1 is no longer for him.
Olivier’s career in F1 began with the Ligier team in 1994. He showed considerable promise, driving the uncompetitive car to unexpectedly high positions and, in 1996, he won the Monaco Grand Prix. Admittedly, this was after almost the entire field had spun off or collided in the wet conditions but Olivier avoided the trouble to come through at the end. And that’s what counts.
Panis continued to drive for Ligier after Prost took over the team and renamed it. In 1997 he produced some excellent early results, second in Spain and third in Brazil, but in Canada he broke his leg in a bad accident, thus putting an end to a promising season.
Thereafter, Olivier’s F1 career went downhill. He left Prost at the end of 1998 and signed for McLaren as a test driver. Returning to competition in 2001 with BAR, he found that the car was less than he’d hoped and, after two years, he departed for Toyota’s new team.
Although the Toyota improved steadily during 2003 and 2004, Olivier elected to take on a test driver role for them from 2005 onwards. And now he has decided to call it quits. He leaves F1 with a reputation for being a competent and solid driver. Always honest, Olivier could be counted on for some good quotes on F1 events. I will miss his insights into the Toyota team.