Toyota's Olivier Panis looks ahead to the Austrian Grand Prix "The pace of the TF103 at last week's Spanish Grand Prix didn't surprise me. We were quick there in pre-season testing and, apart from Imola where we expected to be less competitive...
Toyota's Olivier Panis looks ahead to the Austrian Grand Prix
"The pace of the TF103 at last week's Spanish Grand Prix didn't surprise me. We were quick there in pre-season testing and, apart from Imola where we expected to be less competitive because the car is not good enough over kerbs, we have been mixing it with the top six at every race."
"So far I have finished only one race this year (Imola), which is incredibly frustrating, especially as the car doesn't seem to miss a beat in testing. But, to be honest, all you can do as the driver in these situations is look ahead to the next race and hope that your luck changes soon."
"Last week, we were testing in Paul Ricard, doing tyre comparisons for Michelin. We have tried something like six or seven different compounds for next week's Austrian Grand Prix and we have settled on two very quick tyres."
The tyre competition has really stepped up this year and, however good your car is, you are in fact only as good as your tyre. Luckily for Panasonic Toyota Racing, Michelin have done an incredible job this year, so I have complete faith that we will have a competitive tyre in Austria.
"I always look forward to racing at the A1-Ring because it is set in the most beautiful countryside. But I also think that it will suit our TF103 well. The track has three really long straights, which will suit our RVX-03 engine. There are several overtaking opportunities on the lap, which means that the races are usually very good - and it always helps to have a good engine when you are trying to overtake someone!"
"From a driving point of view, the track isn't technically challenging, but somehow it doesn't really matter. You can get into a good rhythm, which makes it enjoyable to drive."
"You cannot afford to relax because, if you make a small error on the exit of a bend, you are going to be slow down the next straight and that costs you a lot of time. It's also a very short lap - about 1m10 seconds - so the grid will be very close. Even the smallest of errors could cost you a couple of places on the grid."
"I don't want to make any over-optimistic predictions, but a points finish is within our grasp. Although I have yet to score a championship point this year, I am convinced that the TF103 is one of the most promising cars on the grid. All I need is a chance to show what it can do over a complete race distance."
"Finally, I want to say that I personally think the FIA's decision to keep traction control in 2004 is really good. From my point of view, I think the more experienced drivers - of which I am one - have an advantage with traction control because it takes a long time to learn how to get the most from the system. Second, I think there is a safety issue as well. I don't want to imagine what it would have been like to race in the rain at Interlagos without it. It would have been extremely dangerous."