Panasonic Toyota Racing endured a home race to forget with Jarno Trulli classified 13th while Ralf Schumacher did not finish. It was a case of deja vu at Fuji Speedway with rain making for extremely difficult conditions, just like the first World...
Panasonic Toyota Racing endured a home race to forget with Jarno Trulli classified 13th while Ralf Schumacher did not finish. It was a case of deja vu at Fuji Speedway with rain making for extremely difficult conditions, just like the first World Championship Japanese Grand Prix at the track in 1976.
On a very wet track, Jarno -- wearing a specially designed helmet for this race as part of a Panasonic competition - lined up 13th with Ralf two places further back. With both drivers using extreme wet Bridgestone Potenza tyres, the race ran behind the safety car until lap 19. Jarno had already made his first pit stop for more fuel, on lap 18, while Ralf's first stop came on lap 28 and he also continued on extreme wets. The safety car returned on lap 43 following an accident and, as racing resumed five laps later, Ralf made his final planned stop.
However, an electronic problem caused by water in the cockpit forced a stop for repairs on lap 53. Quick work from the crew saw Ralf return to the track after losing several laps but a slow puncture ended his race two laps from the chequered flag. The team now heads to the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit for the penultimate race of the season.
"It was a very difficult race from the beginning. Even behind the safety car the conditions were really bad -- there was a lot of spray and it was hard to see anything on the straight. Behind the first safety car unfortunately I made a mistake in the hairpin. While I was warming up the tyres I shifted down and this caused a shift down of one gear too much and the car spun."
"Because of that I lost several positions, then when the safety car came in the race was very wet and visibility was really, really poor. They were difficult conditions and I was suffering with lots of aquaplaning and poor grip. I think it was a tough afternoon for everyone out there and obviously I am disappointed with this result."
"We've had a tough time all weekend and today that continued. Unfortunately my radio stopped working midway through the race but then with all the rain, water got into our electrics and that forced me to pit again. My crew fixed the problem but we had a puncture so that was that."
"It wasn't a very enjoyable race because of the rain, which made the track really slippery and meant there was pretty much zero visibility when we were running under safety car at the start. It was a real challenge to drive with all the spray but the conditions improved a bit as the race went on. There's not much more to say about this weekend -- I just hope we can get a better result next week in China."
Tadashi Yamashina -- Team Principal:
"Today it was very difficult for us. Towards the end of the race, on Ralf's car, the main electronics box failed because of water in the cockpit but the team did well to fix the problem so Ralf could continue and race in front of our Japanese fans. Then we found the new set of tyres had a slow puncture, we think this was because of debris. For Jarno, we still have to analyse what happened because obviously the car wasn't competitive."
"We need to focus our energy on improving mechanical grip and aerodynamics. We must push very hard to make improvements. Our car was not competitive in these conditions but now we will do our best for the Chinese Grand Prix. I would like to say congratulations to Fuji Speedway for hosting this race for the first time in 30 years. The facilities here are excellent and the race was well organised. It is a shame we could not get the result we wanted in this race."
Chassis: Chassis TF107/04
Race Classification: 13th (+1 lap)
Race Classification: DNF