Grand Prix Preview Round 4: San Marino Following three long-haul races to start the season, the Formula 1 World Championship returns to Europe this weekend for the San Marino Grand Prix. Panasonic Toyota Racing arrives at the 4.943-kilometre...
Grand Prix Preview Round 4: San Marino
Following three long-haul races to start the season, the Formula 1 World Championship returns to Europe this weekend for the San Marino Grand Prix.
Panasonic Toyota Racing arrives at the 4.943-kilometre Imola circuit - which is officially called the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari - looking to both cars past the finish line. To this end, the team's three TF102 cars will feature various modifications for the first time this year.
Allan McNish tested various revised parts at Valencia in southern Spain last week, while his team-mate Mika Salo, who undertook the testing duties prior to the Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago, took a well-earned rest with his family in Switzerland. As well as various engine and electronics modifications, McNish tried some aerodynamic parts for this race, as well as some new brake materials by way of preparation for the heavy braking forces at Imola - which, like Interlagos, runs in an anti-clockwise direction.
Panasonic Toyota Racing tested its TF101 test car at Imola last year with Allan McNish at the wheel. The data gathered last summer is particularly relevant because most other teams have not run at the track since last year's race, due to local noise restrictions limiting testing.
"I could not believe we again finished in the points in Brazil. The team really deserved that result for their hard work. I think everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing is very pleased with the general reliability of the car, but we are still long way away from finishing in the top 10 without the cars ahead of us dropping out. Our windtunnel in Cologne is now up-and-running, producing parts. We have made some aerodynamic changes for this weekend's race, so we shall see what that brings."
"After Brazil we have reason to be confident and I hope we can get the same sort of result this weekend. I enjoy racing at Imola and I finished top 6 there in 2000. We have made some modifications to the car, particularly with the aerodynamics. Allan had a good test in Imola with the team last year, so we will not arrive completely blind. I'm looking forward to it."
"We had a good test at Valencia last week. We tried some new things on the car - particularly with the electronics - and we made good progress. I tested at Imola with the team last year and we gathered a lot of information, which will be useful because there isn't any general testing at the track. It was also quite useful for me because Imola is quite something in a grand prix car, so I'm pleased to have had a run here already."
Lap of Imola with Mika Salo:
"Imola is quite a difficult track to drive because it is very narrow and you have to use the kerbs a lot if you want to be fast. To do that, you need a lot of confidence in the car - which I have because our TF102 is driver-friendly and doesn't have any strange reactions. The chicanes at Tamburello have not had a positive effect on the flow of the track and have put the emphasis on brake wear, but there are still fast corners like Acque Minerali that are really challenging.