Panis in two-year deal with 'ambitious' BAR

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The Independent Online

British American Racing confirmed yesterday that Olivier Panis will partner Jacques Villeneuve next season.

British American Racing confirmed yesterday that Olivier Panis will partner Jacques Villeneuve next season.

The Frenchman, who will fulfil his test-driver duties with McLaren-Mercedes before moving at the end of the year, will sign a two-year deal. Panis replaces Ricardo Zonta at BAR after the former Champ Car driver failed to impress, scoring just one championship point in two seasons.

The BAR managing director, Craig Pollock, hopes the appointment of Panis will help his team develop in their third season in 2001. "Olivier Panis is an experienced grand prix driver, a highly rated test driver and a proven race winner, and we believe his knowledge and ability will assist the team greatly," he said. "Any decision concerning our driver line-up is a complex matter and had to be carefully considered. Ours is a young team and one that has setitself some ambitious targets."

Panis, who made his Formula One debut with Ligier in 1994 before moving to Prost in 1997, won the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.

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