Panasonic Toyota Racing brought its long test at the Bahrain International Circuit to a close today on a positive note. Ralf Schumacher was in the driving seat again with Franck Montagny replacing Jarno Trulli for the final day of the last multi-team test before the season starts in Melbourne on March 18.
Ralf managed to fit in a dinner with Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini Sports Minister, last night where he met several other important local dignitaries but he was back at work early this morning. Both drivers concentrated on different set-ups as preparations for the first race of the season in Australia reach a climax.
Ralf spun harmlessly in the morning and lost a little time in the afternoon with a gearbox control issue while Franck's trouble-free day meant he brought in useful information after completing more than two Grand Prix distances while trying various set-up and differential options. Panasonic Toyota Racing now moves to Jerez next week for its final test before the start of the season.
"Today we saw some improvement in the car which is positive. I had a bit of trouble in the morning when I spun but I was still able to do a lot of laps and that gave us the chance to do quite a bit of work on the last day here. It has been a pretty successful test. We looked at a few different areas and I think we have made some important steps forward. Obviously we have some issues to sort out but we will work hard at that next week and then off we go to lovely Melbourne."
"It was quite a good day of testing. I did over 120 laps so once again we have put a lot of miles on the car which is good news. We have some little things to work on but more or less we are doing well. We were concentrating on long runs which I did more or less all day, without trying any qualifying runs. We have found some really interesting information and we looked quite competitive on long runs."
"I think we were able to lap as fast as many of our rivals so that looks promising. The next thing to work on will be qualifying speed but I am sure we will get there. Also, I would like to say my mechanics and all the team did an outstanding job during these 10 days. It has not been easy but everyone worked hard and kept their focus which is important."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis:
"Today Franck had a productive day and he was able to put a lot of laps on the car. He carried out the programme of long runs as planned and we are pleased with what he achieved. Ralf's day was disrupted by a few issues unfortunately. For sure his programme did not go as expected and we were not able to do all the work we had planned on his car, but we still have one test remaining before the season starts so we will push hard to arrive well prepared for the Australian Grand Prix."
Best Lap Time: 1min 31.791s
Total laps: 82
Total distance: 443.7kms
Best Lap Time: 1min 32.264s
Total laps: 120
Total distance: 649.4kms