Toyota's Olivier Panis looks ahead to the French Grand Prix "What can I say about the European Grand Prix? Panasonic Toyota Racing had a really competitive car all weekend, but we came away with no world championship points, which was very ...
Toyota's Olivier Panis looks ahead to the French Grand Prix
"What can I say about the European Grand Prix? Panasonic Toyota Racing had a really competitive car all weekend, but we came away with no world championship points, which was very disappointing."
To be honest, the pace of the TF103 at the N?rburgring surprised me a little. It handled better than I expected, which allowed me to push really hard. I was fastest in practice on both Friday and Saturday mornings and I did a really good qualifying lap on Saturday afternoon to be seventh on the grid. We had a competitive level of fuel in the car, so I was sure we could score points.
"We found a problem with one of the front uprights after the race and believe this to be the cause. In any case, we don't have much time to reflect on the European Grand Prix because we have the French Grand Prix coming up this weekend."
"Luckily for us, the N?rburgring is located very close to our factory in Cologne, which allowed us to drive our cars back to base on Sunday night after the race, re-build them on Monday and drive them to Magny-Cours on Tuesday. I think we were the only team that had this luxury, so we should be in good shape."
"I like Magny-Cours as a track. It is good fun to drive and I know it very well from my six years at Ligier and Prost because we did nearly all of our testing there. The start of the lap is very enjoyable because there is a very fast flick left-handed after the start-finish straight, before the long right-hander at Turn 2. The whole way through this second corner you are trying to get on the throttle because a long straight follows, but if you get on it too soon, you understeer off-line. It's very challenging."
"Another good section is called Estoril, which is a quick chicane in the middle of the lap. You approach this corner over the crest of a hill, so it's on you very quickly and you have to be on exactly the right line because it is seriously quick. Not a place where you want to get it wrong."
"The end of the lap is quite slow, but the organisers have made some big modifications this year, removing the old chicane and completely changing the Lycee corner. They invited me to drive the new-look track in a Lexus a couple of months ago and I must tell you that they have done a really, really good job."
"With this being my home race, there is a bit more pressure on me, especially because I am the only Frenchman on the grid. But I have a good relationship with the fans and I hope that I can give them a good result. In the past I have had terrible luck at this race and have never finished in the points, but I am determined to put that right this year and I think I will have the car to do it."
"The TF103 is at its best on medium to high-speed tracks, as we proved at Barcelona earlier in the year when my team-mate Cristiano Da Matta finished sixth. In terms of layout, Magny-Cours should suit the car, so I am confident that we will be competitive. The track surface is also very smooth and the normally high temperatures should suit the Michelin tyres, which have been fantastic all season. It is also Michelin's home race, so another competitive showing would be fitting."
"Anything other than a points' finish will be disappointing because the car should be quick and reliable."