Ralf Joins The Early Birds Ralf Schumacher arrived at Barcelona today to have his first taste of the new package that Panasonic Toyota Racing hopes will further its progress towards the front of the F1 grid in 2006. The team finished fourth in...
Ralf Joins The Early Birds
Ralf Schumacher arrived at Barcelona today to have his first taste of the new package that Panasonic Toyota Racing hopes will further its progress towards the front of the F1 grid in 2006. The team finished fourth in the constructors championship this year but Technical Director, Chassis, Mike Gascoyne, thinks that a top three finish is a realistic aim.
"I am pleased with the work that we have done so far and that we are already out testing with our 2006 car and new tyre partners. Mechanically, you want to be out as soon as possible with your new package so that your testing data is as meaningful as possible."
"Aerodynamically though, you aim to introduce your components for the first race of the season at the last test. Formula 1, more than ever these days, is a process of continual development."
Ralf's debut in the TF106 was interrupted by an engine failure but the RVX-06 engine had done a strong mileage before the incident occurred, in a car fitted with a new oil system. Ricardo Zonta, meanwhile, had no disruptions to his third day of testing and made good progress.
"It was a successful day apart from the little engine issue. It was my first time in the V8-powered Toyota and it was very interesting. Obviously, it was lower on power but still a very good engine with a nice torque curve and very driveable It's hard to judge against other cars because in testing you are looking for clear road rather than running close to someone else."
"As regards the chassis, the new car felt really good and I was happy with the tyres as well, even if there's a long way to go before the beginning of the season and a lot of work to do. The Bridgestones didn't feel that much different but the car set-up had already been done by my team mates over the first two days of the test."
"For a starting point, it was very good. It's important to be out testing early. I think we learned that last year and saw the benefits. It helped us a lot in the first few races and that's what we are aiming for again."
'Tyred' But Motivated
Panasonic Toyota Racing's third driver, Ricardo Zonta, is used to doing big F1 testing mileages - sometimes more than two race distances in a day. But, with the emphasis on developing the relationship with new tyre partner Bridgestone, the Brazilian spent the day making more set-up changes than usual as well as trying different sets of tyres.
"Today, for me, has been the best of the three days so far this week. We have had time to work through a lot of things and try a lot of different tyres. We are stopping a lot to make set-up changes and we are not looking for super-quick lap times but despite that our performance was still very respectable."
"The tyres have quite a different feel in some aspects but it has been a very positive day. The tyre graining can affect things in colder weather but it has been a very good day overall and we are learning all the time."
Ralf Schumacher suffered his engine failure while running just in front of former F1 team mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who was caught out by Ralf's oil.
Luca Marmorini, Technical Director, Engine:
"We have to hold up our hands and say yes, we had a failure, but that's why we test. The car was fitted with some new experimental parts and we will need to carry out a thorough investigation to discover the problem. But we are not despondent because the engine was approaching 900kms first time out with the untried system."
"Also, while we concentrated on reliability in the first tests with the new engine a couple of months ago, we are now looking more towards performance."
Not Just An Eighty Percenter...
The 2006 Formula 1 engines might be missing 20% of their previous capacity but, already, the Toyota RVX-06 V8 engine is performing at a very high level. The 1m16.64s lap that Ricardo Zonta set today was just 2.5s slower than a V10 time set by a rival team, on a circuit that does not have a short lap.
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer:
"I think that over the first few sessions with the TF106 we can be happy! Today was another productive day. Ricardo went through a schedule with the new tyres that gave us some interesting conclusions, while Ralf concentrated most of his attention on a brake programme."