Q: Timo, a spectacular end to your first GP for Panasonic Toyota Racing? TG: I had massive understeer and the car just drifted wide. I had been on the grass earlier in the weekend and there was no problem but on that occasion the car just hit...
Q: Timo, a spectacular end to your first GP for Panasonic Toyota Racing?
TG: I had massive understeer and the car just drifted wide. I had been on the grass earlier in the weekend and there was no problem but on that occasion the car just hit the bump and really took off. It was disappointing because there were not many finishers and I was in a position to score points on my Toyota debut.
Q: How are you feeling after the accident?
TG: I am fine. My hand was a bit sore after the accident because I got a big hit from the steering wheel when I landed but there's no serious damage and I'm sure it won't be a problem.
Q: How had the weekend gone until then?
TG: Pretty well. We qualified both cars in the top 10, which was important, but we'd had a problem with my car in Saturday free practice and we needed to change the gearbox. With the new rules that meant a five place grid penalty and then I got another penalty so I was down in 19th. I didn't agree with that decision. We planned our race strategy around my starting position and so starting with a heavy fuel load it was always going to be difficult in the early stages and then I had contact with two cars at turn one, which didn't help. But after that I drove a consistent race and things were looking quite good for points.
Q: How did it feel to be back in the hurly-burly of a Grand Prix weekend?
TG: It was interesting to experience how it all works again because it was different when I raced in 2004. The qualifying system felt quite strange when you are sat in the car and there is less than three minutes to go and you are still in the pits. It's all timed to the last moment and sometimes that feels strange. But in general I was really happy with it. I was close to Jarno in Q2 but at the beginning it was quite difficult and we didn't manage to get the tyres working perfectly and I lost quite a bit of time in the first sector compared to him. Overall it was a good start, all the mechanics were quite happy and that was good for me as well.
Q: Did you ever feel that your chance to return to Formula 1 might not come?
TG: I never lost my dream to be in Formula 1. I was always thinking about it, even in difficult moments. When I went to Champ Car it was a really good experience and I learned a lot fighting against guys like Paul Tracy. GP2 was more good racing experience, fighting against good guys. I now want to build my Formula 1 experience. Jarno has that and knows what to do and how to succeed. He has more experience and that could be quite difficult for me in the first few races but I will try to consistently develop during the season and get closer to him.
Q: What are your first impressions of working with Panasonic Toyota Racing at a race weekend?
TG: Really good. When you see the progress we have made from the first test it is quite impressive and bodes well for the future. It is a really professional team and everyone has just one goal, which is to be at the top.
Q: Were the tyre warm--up issues prompted by a different set--up to Jarno?
TG: No, I think it's more driving style. Jarno has quite a different style. For me it is sometimes difficult to get the right balance and get the car and tyres to work. With his aggressive style on turn--in he warms up the tyre quicker, but that is not my driving style. I will try to adapt myself and we will also develop the car more in my direction as well.
Q: You had the time zones and unusual heat to cope with in Melbourne. Did you have any problems?
TG: Not in race week, no, but in Tokyo a few days before that it was quite tough because I arrived and then the next morning worked all day. The heat can affect drivers but we train hard to achieve the necessary levels of fitness. It can obviously play a role in long races and I think Melbourne was good practice for Malaysia, which is really hot and humid.