SEPTEMBER 18, 2006

Panis leaves F1 as Montagny prepares to join Toyota

Olivier Panis is retiring from Formula 1 after 12 years in the business and Toyota is to replace him and Ricardo Zonta with France's Franck Montagny. The Frenchman will become the team's third and test driver and will stand in if anything stops Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher from racing.

"I know that it is time for me to move on and fulfil my wish to race again," says Panis. "I am looking forward to new racing challenges outside Formula 1 but I will keep a close eye on Toyota's performance and hope they achieve all the success they deserve."

Toyota is also expected to promote one of its young drivers to the test team, the most likely candidate for this being Franck Perera, another Frenchman, who is currently racing in GP2.