Panasonic Toyota Racing heads into tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix with two drivers in the top six rows of the grid after a hectic qualifying session around the streets of the principality. The 2006 qualifying rules meant that traffic was always...
Panasonic Toyota Racing heads into tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix with two drivers in the top six rows of the grid after a hectic qualifying session around the streets of the principality. The 2006 qualifying rules meant that traffic was always likely to be a major factor in the afternoon's proceedings.
With up to 22 cars battling for space on the 3.340km circuit during the first two 15-minute qualifying sessions, finding a clear lap was close to impossible. Jarno Trulli battled hard to make it into Qualifying Session 3, eventually taking 8th on the grid. Ralf Schumacher just missed out, finishing just outside the top ten in Session 2 with 11th. Both drivers will now look for the best possible result tomorrow.
One prize already awarded this weekend was a lunch in the Toyota motorhome with third driver Ricardo Zonta. Available at last night's charity auction for the Tereza Maxová Foundation, it was won by no less than Prince Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco. He passed on the prize to family member William Von Medicus.
"The team did a good job today but it was a tough qualifying session. We made some adjustments to the tuning to avoid a bit of understeer and the car reacted pretty well. It was hard work to find a good clear lap out there with the new qualifying format but we managed better than expected. At one stage in Q2 I was going even quicker when I was blocked by several cars in the middle of the lap, but we still made it through to Session 3."
"Then at the very end I was on the second of a two-lap run when I saw a yellow flag and the car in the middle of the track so I stopped my lap. In the end I'm happy with where I am as well as our race strategy. It is obviously difficult to judge a new car on this kind of circuit but first we have a tough Sunday ahead and I just hope we can run a good race tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher :
"Our times were not impressive this morning because we have spent the whole weekend doing race set-up work so we were confident we could pick up the pace in qualifying. The traffic was not as bad as we feared going into the sessions with the 2006 qualifying rules so the team did well to find some relatively clear laps."
"So it's a reasonable job so far and with the race strategy that we have chosen and the tyres that we have, we should be strong tomorrow. It is a very long race and because you have to be 100 per cent concentrated all the time it certainly feels like it. But the challenge is to push to the limit for 78 laps without going over it."
Pascal Vasselon - Senior General Manager Chassis:
"We were expecting a difficult morning because we decided to use the session to prepare for the race. So of course we were far back on the time sheets, but there were good reasons for that. We were effectively expecting to catch up this afternoon and that is what we did. As it turned out, it was less difficult than we expected to find clear laps."
"We were prepared to face any kind of situation and it went according to plan. Jarno's position is satisfying but he was blocked by yellow flags on his final lap while other drivers could continue their fast laps. It was a pity that Ralf just missed out on Session 3 but he is still in a decent position to do well in the race. We are happy with our tyre choice and now we have to look for a good result tomorrow."
Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B
PROVISIONAL GRID: 8th
Free Practice Session 3: 19th
Lap Time: 1m16.456s (+2.633s)
Qualifying Session 1: 9th
Lap Time: 1m14.883s (+0.996s)
Qualifying Session 2: 8th
Lap Time: 1m14.211s (+0.679s)
Qualifying Session 3: 8th
Lap Time: 1m15.857s (+1.959s)
Car 7, Chassis TF106/07B
PROVISIONAL GRID: 11th
Free Practice Session 3: 21st
Lap Time: 1m17.860s (+4.037s)
Qualifying Session 1: 4th
Lap Time: 1m14.412s (+0.525s)
Qualifying Session 2: 11th
Lap Time: 1m14.398s (+0.866s)