The Panasonic Toyota Racing team ended the season on a high note in Suzuka today after Cristiano da Matta finished the Japanese GP in seventh place to score two championship points. Olivier Panis secured a two-car finish in the team's home grand...
The Panasonic Toyota Racing team ended the season on a high note in Suzuka today after Cristiano da Matta finished the Japanese GP in seventh place to score two championship points. Olivier Panis secured a two-car finish in the team's home grand prix, completing the 53-lap race in 10th position. Starting from an impressive second row of the grid, both drivers lost positions to drivers benefiting from a two-stop strategy. Da Matta ran strongly throughout the GP, never dropping out of the points. The result takes Panasonic Toyota Racing's points tally to 16 and gives the team 8th in the constructors' standings.
Cristiano da Matta
"That was a fun but tough race and I am very pleased to score two more championship points in Toyota's home race. We started from a strong grid position and we were able to translate our improved performance yesterday into a points finish. Having said that, I think we were capable of more. We started well and ran in fourth for a long time, but we then lost some positions to the guys who were two-stopping. For my debut season in F1 and the team's second, I think that we have done an excellent job, even if the points have been difficult to come by. We have learned a lot over the last sixteen races and shown the full potential of the Toyota team, so I am looking forward to more improvement next season."
"I think we deserved more from today's race. We decided to do three stops and try to maintain our excellent qualifying positions, but ultimately we couldn't match the pace of the teams who opted to stop twice. On a positive note, we were able to get both cars past the chequered flag in front of the Japanese fans. We must now look ahead to next year with big confidence. I continue to be impressed by the work of the whole team. Together, we have grown a lot throughout the season and we have made really big progress with the car. We can remember the 2003 season with some good memories and look to more highlights next year, with a faster car, strong grid positions, more points, and who knows what else?"
Ove Andersson - Team Principal
"To take two points in our home grand prix is a very nice feeling and we can return to Cologne with our heads held high. We finish the season in eighth position in the constructors' championship, which is where we probably should be after only our second season in Formula 1. My ambition tells me that I would have liked to be further up, but it was a more difficult year than our debut season, and one from which we have learned a huge amount. I want to thank the team for the hard work and effort that every single person has put into this season. We will back racing next year with a better car and even more determination to be successful and to give our competitors an even harder time."
Weather: Cloudy, but dry.
Cristiano da Matta
Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 7th, +56.794s (from race winner) Grid: 3rd
Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/08
Session Classification: 10th, +1m01.814s (from race winner) Grid: 4th
T-car: TF103/02 set-up for Olivier Panis.