Panasonic Toyota Racing will leave China empty-handed after a desperately disappointing afternoon's work at today's Chinese Grand Prix. The unsettled weather that has disrupted the whole weekend continued on Sunday, with showers at the Shanghai ...
Panasonic Toyota Racing will leave China empty-handed after a desperately disappointing afternoon's work at today's Chinese Grand Prix. The unsettled weather that has disrupted the whole weekend continued on Sunday, with showers at the Shanghai International Circuit throughout the morning. The rain stopped shortly before the start but the race still took place on a wet track. After the problems during yesterday's wet qualifying session, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had it all to do today from their grid positions of 16th and 17th. It was slow progress in the early part of the race as both drivers were caught in a snake of traffic for most of the first stint. Because of the lowly positions the team took a gamble of switching to dry tyres and filling up until the end of the race. The switch came while the track was still wet and both drivers struggled for the next set of laps, losing a lot of ground. But as the track dried out, Ralf twice set the fastest lap of the race up to that point. Unfortunately he did not make it to the finish, succumbing to an oil pressure problem on lap 49. Jarno earlier retired with a loss of pneumatic pressure on lap 38. Toyota will now head to Suzuka hoping for a better performance at next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the team's home race.
"It's been a difficult weekend for us. Given that we were starting from so far down the grid, we knew that today would be hard work and so it proved. In the race we were reasonably competitive but I spent much of the early laps in traffic. So the team took the risk to change to dry tyres before the track was really ready. It was a difficult decision to make but we took the gamble because we were such a long way back. It enabled us to fill up until the end of the race but we lost a lot of time in the first few laps after the stop. The situation gradually improved and ten laps later I even twice set the fastest lap of the race that far. Unfortunately we then had an oil pressure spike so we need to look into that. But we just need to get things right during a weekend and then we can be competitive."
"That was a day to forget. Of course it was always going to be difficult starting the race from so far back. We haven't been competitive all weekend in wet conditions. The balance was not too bad on the first stint but we were in a very long queue of traffic. The pit stops came before the ideal time to switch to dry tyres but the team took a gamble because we were so far back and we had nothing to lose. Unfortunately it didn't pay off. It was very hard to keep the car on the road after that and we lost a lot of ground on the rest of the field. To make matters worse I then suffered a problem with the engine's pneumatic pressure and we had to retire. But every day is different so we head to the next race hoping for a better weekend and a change of luck."
Tsutomu Tomita -- Team Principal
"Starting from where we were on the grid after our bad luck with the weather and the red flags yesterday, we knew it was going to be hard to make up ground. So we had to be aggressive to try and salvage something from the day. The first part of the race the pace of the car was okay, but we were blocked behind Coulthard who was apparently on a different strategy. From then on we had to take a risk to try and catch up otherwise we would have ended up far from the points. We were fuelled quite long for the first stint just to be able to wait for the track to dry out. When we were about to pit the conditions were still not perfect for dry tyres, but still we went for it because it was the only possibility to come away with a good result. It was a risk that did not pay off but we had to try it and I still think it was a good decision. Both drivers performed well but later in the race we had some issues on both cars, Jarno with a pneumatic consumption problem and Ralf with oil pressure so we had to retire both cars. I'm very sorry for the problems to the fans and to the drivers but we will now work hard for a result at Suzuka next week."