JUNE 18, 2005

Toyota announces Zonta

Ricardo Zonta will stand in for Ralf Schumacher for the rest of the Indianapolis weekend. The Brazilian raced several times last year after he replaced Cristiano da Matta, who had been dropped by the team.

Zonta is a highly-experienced driver in F1, having started out as a Jordan test driver in 1997. He moved on to McLaren in 1998 and in 1999 was hired to race alongside Jacques Villeneuve in the new BAR team. An accident early in the season put him out of action for several months and he never really regained the momentum. In 2000 he was back on the pace but then had another big crash when his front suspension collapsed during a test at Silverstone and his car vaulted the safety fences at Stowe. He emerged with nothing worse than a cut finger but the team soon decided to drop him in 2001 and he went back to a testing job at Jordan and got the chance to race later that year when Heinz-Harald Frentzen was injured after a high-speed accident at Monte Carlo. Later in the year Jordan decided to replace Frentzen but Zonta was passed over for the job and it was clear that the Brazilian was wasting his time with Jordan and in 2002 he took the decision to race in the Telefonica World Series. He won the title and as a result was signed up as Toyota's test driver in January 2003.

The decision not to allow Schumacher to race was made by FIA Medical Delegate Gary Hartstein, who ruled that it was unwise for Ralf to take part because of the danger of a secondary impact and the possible implications of a secondary concussion. Schumacher himself said that he felt 80% but said that he would be back in action in France in a fortnight.