Panasonic Toyota Racing suffered a difficult afternoon's work in today's Spanish Grand Prix. Both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli qualified on the front four rows but both were relatively slow off the line and during the first stint Ralf was ...
Panasonic Toyota Racing suffered a difficult afternoon's work in today's Spanish Grand Prix. Both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli qualified on the front four rows but both were relatively slow off the line and during the first stint Ralf was directly behind Jarno.
On lap 16 he attempted a manoeuvre into the first corner and the pair touched, with Jarno's right rear tyre knocking off Ralf's front wing. After pitting for a replacement, Ralf suffered a suspected electronics problem that led to his retirement.
Jarno battled hard for the rest of the race and brought the car home in an eventual 10th place. Toyota will spend this week testing at France's Paul Ricard circuit with its new TF106B car, which is scheduled to make its race debut at the Monaco Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.
"Early on when Ralf and I were racing we were on similar strategies. But I was on old tyres and suffering from graining and he was quicker. When he made the move on me I just took my usual driving line. I didn't deliberately close the door and I didn't do anything unusual."
"I didn't even feel the collision and the first time I noticed that we had touched was when Ralf disappeared from my mirrors. No one was to blame, it just goes down as a racing incident. Toyota allows its drivers to race on equal footing but I'm really sorry because he is my team-mate and no one wants to have any problems inside the team."
"So I hope we can clarify the situation and I'm sure we will. I suffered no damage and my second stint was much more competitive but the problems returned on the last stint. So we have to analyse the data to see what happened. Then I will need to do a lot more work to set this car up for my driving style."
"At Toyota we go to the grid as racing drivers and in a race we are allowed to overtake each other. So that means that sometimes things like this can happen. Today I was following Jarno closely during the first stint and I tried to pass him on the entry to the first corner on lap 16. It was normal racing but we touched this time."
"It wasn't a heavy impact but unfortunately I lost my front wing when I hit his tyres so I had to pit for a replacement. That left me well down the field and I then suffered an electronic problem which led to my retirement. All in all it was a day to forget. But at least we were quick in qualifying so we have to look to return to the points in Monaco."
Tsutomu Tomita - Team Principal:
"It looks like we will have to spend a lot of time analysing what went wrong today. On Friday and Saturday the car, the engine and the tyres were all working well and things were looking good. But today's race pace ended up very similar to what we had last week at the Nürburgring and we have to understand why we could not race at the speed of the top teams."
"First we have to learn why our starts were so poor because that was one of the causes of the issues we had in the race. We also have to analyse Jarno's car performance to find out why he struggled for the second race in a row. We will need to investigate the causes when we arrive back in Cologne. Finally we have to understand why our two drivers had a collision."
"At Toyota our philosophy is very much based around racing. We are a race team and that means our drivers have to be free to race - but with one limit. Based on the results of our investigations into everything that happened today we will seek to improve for the next race. We will have a busy evening and a busy week ahead."
Car 8, Chassis TF106/04
Race Classification: 10th
Gap: +1 lap (from race winner)
Qualifying Classification: 7th
Time: 1m15.976s (+1.328s in Session 3)
Car 7, Chassis TF106/05
Race Classification: DNF
Qualifying Classification: 6th
Time: 1m15.885s (+1.237s in Session 3)