Toyota's Mika Salo shares his thoughts on Canada, testing and the upcoming European Grand Prix. "Montreal was a bit of a mid-season dip for Panasonic Toyota Racing. We went there with high hopes, thinking that the new track would suit the TF102,...
Toyota's Mika Salo shares his thoughts on Canada, testing and the upcoming European Grand Prix.
"Montreal was a bit of a mid-season dip for Panasonic Toyota Racing. We went there with high hopes, thinking that the new track would suit the TF102, but we came away empty handed. We never found a balance at high speed and the car jumped around on the kerbs, which made it hard to get the power down.
Not having tested at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, we underestimated the effects of the kerbs and we suffered exactly the same problems that we had at Imola earlier in the year. We began to get a handle on the problem by Sunday but, by then, it was effectively too late. I then had a puncture in the race, which damaged my brakes - race over.
We went straight from Montreal to Jerez, in southern Spain, for a three-day test session. It was really hot, which made the cooling of car and driver an issue, but we made good progress, except for a few electronics problems. We ran some new parts and I hope we do not have the same problems in the future that we had in Canada. I can't wait to get to the Nürburgring next week to see how the changes translate on the stopwatch against the other cars.
As a track I've never particularly enjoyed the 'Ring, in the same way that I don't enjoy the A1 Ring. It's a typical stadium circuit that lacks character and doesn't punish mistakes. Get it wrong and you can go through a gravel trap and get back onto the track with minimal damage. But it's my job to perform on every track that we visit, so I can assure you that I'll give my usual 110 percent.
It's a medium downforce track with mainly middle and slow-speed corners. Brakes are important because there are now three big braking areas - the new Turn 1, the hairpin and the chicane. It's not a very long lap, so every hundredth of a second counts in qualifying.
As for the first corner, I've only seen pictures of it so it's hard for me to say too much. My initial reaction is that it looks like a big accident zone because we'll be braking from high speeds to nothing in a very short space of time. The flip side of that is that it will be a new overtaking spot, which is no bad thing. This is, in one sense, a home grand prix for Panasonic Toyota Racing because our factory is only 40 minutes down the road in Cologne. Most of the guys in the factory will be going down to spectate and have a chance to see what's going on.
The weather can be a bit funny in the Eiffel region and you can never be sure what it is going to happen from one day to the next. At least the race is taking place in June this year, so there shouldn't be the snow that we had one year!"