The Panasonic Toyota Racing team has confirmed that Jarno Trulli will join the team as a race driver from 2005. The Italian driver signed a two-year contract on Tuesday 14 September at Toyota Motorsport's headquarters in Cologne, which will see him partner German driver Ralf Schumacher from next season.
Trulli will have his first drive a Toyota F1 car at the Silverstone Circuit in Britain.
"It is no secret that we have been speaking with Jarno Trulli for some time about the possibility for him to join Panasonic Toyota Racing, but contrary to recent reports, we have only finalized contractual details this week," said Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita.
Jarno Trulli is one of only four drivers to have won a Grand Prix in 2004, having dominated the Monaco GP to take his debut race victory. In his eight seasons in Formula 1, Jarno has made four trips to the podium and scored two pole positions.
"Jarno has really shown his maturity and all-round talent this season, both in qualifying and in races, and we believe that he will be the perfect team-mate to Ralf at Toyota from next season," added Tomita.
"On that note, I would like to set the record straight early and stress that there are no driver orders at Toyota; Ralf and Jarno will have equal number one status with us," Tomita further stressed.
Toyota currently plans for Ricardo Zonta to drive the third car in Friday free practice sessions, as well as undertaking extensive test duties alongside Olivier Panis in 2005.
"We are also looking forward to Ricardo staying with the team in 2005 as our Friday driver at races. Along with Olivier, Ricardo has demonstrated a strong commitment and motivation to the team over the last two years. I firmly believe that both Olivier and Ricardo will excel in test and development roles with Toyota," said Tomita.
Ryan Briscoe will still be contracted to Toyota in 2005, but will not be a regular Panasonic Toyota Racing race or test driver. He will, however, continue to receive support from the team as he looks to find a race seat for next year.
"With Ralf, Jarno, Olivier and Ricardo, I think that Panasonic Toyota Racing will have one of the strongest driver line-ups in Formula 1 for next season," declared Tomita.