Panis reflects on Barcelona

Toyota's Olivier Panis looks back over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend "We did some work at Mugello in Italy, concentrating on the tyres that we would have for Barcelona. As a result of this test, we were happy with the feeling of the car when we...

Toyota's Olivier Panis looks back over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend

"We did some work at Mugello in Italy, concentrating on the tyres that we would have for Barcelona. As a result of this test, we were happy with the feeling of the car when we started driving in Friday free practice. The balance of the car felt very good at an early stage of the weekend, which is always a big help."

Olivier Panis.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

"The tyres are very important nowadays, but more so at Barcelona. The track has some high-speed corners and, combined with the abrasive surface, it means that the tyres take a lot of punishment, especially the left front and left rear. A lot of people think it is the loadings that are the issue but I think there are four of five circuits that actually have higher loadings. It's the loading in association with the abrasive track that produces the challenge."

"I really enjoy driving at the Circuit de Catalunya. The high-speed corners are very rewarding. After all, that's what makes us want to be racing drivers in the first place! We also felt that the track would be better-suited to the TF104 than anywhere we had raced so far this year."

"In qualifying at least that the was the case! It was one of those laps that you dream about but don't very often achieve. I can't put my finger on any part of the lap that I felt could have been better and I was really happy with it. I wasn't surprised that it brought us our best qualifying position of the year so far."

"I am sure that many people put the strong qualifying result down to a low fuel load, but we proved them wrong in the race! I stopped on lap 8, which was the same lap as Fernando Alonso, who went on to finish fourth and just one lap before Jarno Trulli, who finished on the podium. I think our strategy was perfect, it's just that we did not have enough race pace."

"My start was not bad but pretty much immediately I found that I was short of grip. I was in seventh place, the same as my grid position, but I found that I couldn't keep pace with Alonso and my lap times started to drop away a little. Mike (Gascoyne) thinks that we may have been running tyre pressures that were a little high. Then I lost three places to people who ran slightly longer first stints."

"I am very sorry for the team for the drive-through penalty. At the time, I was not sure whether it was a problem with the limiter or finger trouble from my side, but it turns out I was trying to engage the limiter whilst in fourth gear, which does not work. Highly frustrating, but if there was a positive side at all, it was that it happened in a race that I wasn't going to finish anyway. The team had spotted on the telemetry that I was losing hydraulic fluid and, sure enough, I started to lose gears and then the power steering stopped working. I had no choice but to retire."

"The Toyota reliability has been excellent so far this season, but you can't realistically expect to finish every race in F1, even if nobody seems to have told Michael Schumacher that!"

"Of course, Monaco is the next race on the calendar and one of the highlights of my career! Every racing driver dreams of winning a Grand Prix and a special dream is winning the Monaco Grand Prix. It is not a million miles away from where I live, of course, and to win in 1996 was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

"It is a unique place. You need to have total confidence in the car because the barriers are so close and so many of the corners are blind. You pay a high price for the smallest error. And I think few people realise that the famous tunnel, taken at 290kmh on the exit, is the fastest corner in the championship. I love the place. And I'd love to win it again for Toyota some time in the future."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , Olivier Panis , Fernando Alonso