After its point-scoring start to the season, Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang this weekend confident of another positive result. Ralf Schumacher scored a point for eighth place in Australia at the season-opener, with Jarno Trulli ninth after a competitive race for the team.
The searing heat and stifling humidity of Malaysia makes this weekend's Grand Prix one of the toughest on the calendar, with air temperatures pushing 35°, while the track is a challenging mix of high-speed corners and tight hairpins to test the drivers. But after a week of testing at Sepang, the team is well prepared for the task ahead.
The Malaysian Grand Prix has a special place in Toyota's history after Jarno scored the team's first Formula 1 podium at Sepang in 2005. Now, as Toyota marks 50 years in motorsport, the team is hoping for another result to celebrate.
"Compared to Melbourne, the conditions in Malaysia are completely different. The heat and humidity we experience there is a real challenge for everyone in the team, not just the drivers. I have trained for the heat and I have been able to adjust to the climate with the testing at Sepang so I am in good shape for the race weekend, there are no worries about that."
"I like the circuit, there are some opportunities for overtaking there and it is a new track so the facilities are really great. Also, I have had some good races there and I am hoping for another this year. We made a reasonable start to the season with my point in Australia but we want to be more competitive and hopefully the work we did at our test last week will move us closer to the front. I am optimistic we can be fighting for more points this weekend."
"Sepang is one of the modern kinds of circuit on the Formula 1 calendar and the facilities we have there are very good. As a track it is an interesting technical challenge and the heat and humidty make it one of the hardest races of the season. We have been testing already at Sepang last week which will help us with set-up information and hopefully we will have more performance from the car as well."
"I have very good memories of Malaysia because I achieved Toyota's first Formula 1 podium there in 2005 and that is probably the best race of my time with the team so far. It would be great if we could repeat that kind of result but we know we still have some work to do to catch up with the top teams because in Australia we were still a bit away. However, after a difficult winter of testing it was good to start the season with a competitive performance in Australia and I hope we can have a strong result in Malaysia."
Pascal Vasselon - Senior General Manager Chassis:
"Sepang will be a difficult weekend for all teams because the circuit is hard on every element of the car. The high temperatures are very demanding on the cooling package, the tyres and the brakes. In terms of set-up it is quite tricky as there is an interesting mix of slow and high speed corners. We will get a better idea in Malaysia of how competitive each team is because Melbourne is historically quite an unusual race in terms of performance."
"That is especially true when it comes to tyres. In Malaysia we do not expect to have the kind of warming up problems you usually see in Australia, so this is the first race which will show how the car behaves when the tyres are working well. We did reasonably well in Australia but we want to achieve more and we'll be looking for more performance in Malaysia, where we expect to score more points."