No sooner has the French Grand Prix ended for Panasonic Toyota Racing than the German Grand Prix has begun. The team has just two days in which to prepare its three TF102s and transport them to Hockenheim for the only back-to-back races of the...
No sooner has the French Grand Prix ended for Panasonic Toyota Racing than the German Grand Prix has begun. The team has just two days in which to prepare its three TF102s and transport them to Hockenheim for the only back-to-back races of the 2002 season.
The German Grand Prix will be a new experience for all the teams because Hockenheim has been completely rebuilt since last year. The old 6.825-kilometre track, which had an average speed of 230kph, has been replaced by a tighter 4.574-kilometre circuit, which has an expected average speed of 190kph.
The changes have completely altered the character of the track. Where the cars used to be flat out for 17 seconds twice in a single lap, they will now reach top speed just once, and for an estimated seven seconds. There is no opportunity to test this week, so all of Panasonic Toyota Racing's preparations for the German Grand Prix are taking place in its Cologne factory. The team experienced its first two engine failures in a race at the French Grand Prix and it is running a thorough investigation into the causes as well as using simulations of the Hockenheim track in an effort to predict set-up.
"France was somewhat disappointing for us with our first engine failures in a race, although it was realistic in terms of our grid positions. We go to Hockenheim with less of a disadvantage than at most races because it will be new for everyone, so let's hope that we can have a better weekend there and get both cars past the chequered flag."
"We had a difficult time in France, but I guess it's all part of the learning process. As for the new Hockenheim, it's not a track I have seen before. It would be unfair of me to judge it before I have driven it. We will see when we get there, but the team has been busy this week making sure our car will be as good as possible for the German Grand Prix, and after our recent retirements, my main aim is to finish the race."
"Like most drivers, I haven't seen the new Hockenheim. On paper, it looks quite interesting to drive, although I think the old track, with its long straights, would have suited our car better. I'm driving well at the moment, so I'm looking forward to going to a track where no-one has any prior experience to see what we can do. Reliability has been a key issue at the past few races and everyone has been working hard on that, so our priority now must be to complete the full race distance."
Back-to-back race logistics
Two grands prix on consecutive weekends provides F1 teams with a logistical challenge. The transporters from all 11 teams have to be lined up in the Hockenheim paddock by Tuesday lunchtime, which gives Panasonic Toyota Racing just two days in which to get its entire race team from the Burgundy region of France to Hockenheim. Here's the schedule: the first task is to rebuild the two race cars from the French GP in the pit garages at Magny Cours.
Then, the team packs up the 25-tonnes of equipment that it takes to each race. The next step is to drive the team's three technical units, two support vehicles and motorhomes the 800-kilometre journey from Nevers to Hockenheim. Finally, all the equipment is unloaded. In the space of only 48 hours, Panasonic Toyota Racing is ready for round 12 of the championship!