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Olivier Panis Biography

By Toyota Media
August 13 2003



Olivier Panis
36-year-old Frenchman Olivier Panis has a wealth of Formula 1 experience, both as a racing driver and as a test and development driver. In his 8 years of Grand Prix racing, Olivier has achieved a total of 5 podium finishes and is a member of the elite group of racing drivers who have won a grand prix. The 1996 Monaco Grand Prix remains the highlight of Olivier's 125 F1 races to date.

Olivier PanisOlivier's successful racing career began at the beginning of the 1980's with a 6-year spell in go-karts, before moving to French Formula Renault in 1987. In only his second season in the category, Panis took the title and a new decade brought fresh challenges with two seasons in French Formula 3. The 1990 championship saw the Frenchman reap four podiums and an overall 4th place in the standings. The following year saw a close battle at the head of the field. By attaining 5 wins ­ the most of the season ­ Olivier took the championship runner-up position.

Taking the International Formula 3000 title in 1993 on only his second attempt, Panis was snapped up by the French Ligier-Renault Formula 1 team. His debut season in 1994 saw Panis shine and he took a second-place finish in Hockenheim.

Another podium finish followed the year later when he took second place at the Australian Grand Prix, but it was 1996 when a victory from 14th on the grid at the notoriously tricky street race in Monaco established Olivier Panis in F1.

Two podiums in 1997 for the newly named Prost-Mugen-Honda team, a second-place in Spain and a third-place in Brazil, cemented his success, but an accident at the Canadian Grand Prix in the same season ruled Olivier out of some races with two broken legs. He rejoined the championship towards the end of 1997 and stayed with Prost for a further two seasons.

Olivier became test and development driver for McLaren-Mercedes in 2000 before joining British American Racing-Honda for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

The Frenchman has now signed a two-year contract to be race driver for Panasonic Toyota Racing in 2003 and 2004, alongside Brazilian Cristiano da Matta. As the team looks ahead to its second season in Formula 1, Olivier will bring refreshed motivation, new ideas and immense development and racing experience to the team.
Panis Career to Date

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