Panasonic Toyota Racing will start tomorrow's United States Grand Prix from its highest ever grid position after Olivier Panis posted a sensational 3rd fastest time in second qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Cristiano da Matta was forced to jump in the T-car after his race car developed an engine-related problem during the lunchtime warm-up session. The Brazilian still set a competitive qualifying time and ended up ninth to score the team's fourth double top ten of the year.
"This is a brilliant result for the entire team. I have not started a race on the second row of the grid since the Grand Prix in Argentina back in 1997. I am looking forward to having some fun in the race tomorrow alongside some of the most competitive drivers in the field. We have had a mixed season in terms of results, but it is fabulous to see the rewards of our non-stop efforts. I know that we are not yet in a position to fight for victory, but we have a good car and I expect to pick up a lot of points tomorrow to try and catch BAR-Honda and Jaguar, our nearest rivals in the championship."
Cristiano da Matta:
"All things considered I think my lap today was okay. Unfortunately, I had to switch to the spare car at the last minute because the engine was overheating during the warm-up session and we didn't want to take any risks. The T-car was set-up for me anyway, but even so you always lose out by some tenths-of-a-second, which is critical when the field is as tight as it is here. For tomorrow's race things should be pretty good; the car has been running strongly all weekend, so I think that if the weather stays dry we should be looking for points."
Ove Andersson - Team Principal:
"I am speechless! In only our 32nd race, we have qualified a Toyota on the second row of the grid after Olivier took third place with a really impressive lap. It was a shame that Cristiano had to jump into the T-car, which almost certainly affected his time, but he drove a solid lap to score ninth and another double top ten qualifying result for the team. The atmosphere in the garage during that session was absolutely remarkable and I have to say a big thank you to all the guys for producing such a fantastic result. The cars have looked competitive since first thing yesterday morning and if luck is on our side tomorrow, we should expect to pick up a few points."
Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/08
Session Classification: 3rd
Lap Time: 1m11.920s, +0.250s from pole
Running Order: 7th
Cristiano da Matta
Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02 (T-car)
Session Classification: 9th
Lap Time: 1m12.326s, +0.656s from pole
Running Order: 10th