Panasonic Toyota Racing completed a difficult weekend by missing out on the top 10 in the European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia, Spain today despite setting the fastest lap of the race. A tough afternoon was expected following a frustrating qualifying session and that proved to be the case on another hot and sunny day. The race started badly when Timo Glock was hit from behind in the first corners, causing a puncture and necessitating a first-lap pit stop for new soft compound Bridgestone Potenza tyres. Jarno Trulli, also starting on the soft tyres, made up three places on the first lap but on a track where overtaking is almost impossible the top 10 proved to be out of reach. Both drivers started on heavy fuel loads and passed half distance before making their first pit stop, each switching to super soft tyres. Timo's strategy featured two relatively short stints on the super soft tyres and he switched to a new set with just a few laps to go. Neither driver gave up and in the closing stages Timo set the fastest lap of the whole race with a 1min 38.683s effort, Panasonic Toyota Racing's third in Formula 1.
"The start wasn't great and the car didn't improve from qualifying, when I was struggling a lot with a lack of grip. So I had the same problems again today and the grip was nowhere close to where it had been earlier in the weekend during practice. I did my best but there was nothing I could do to improve my position. I hope for a better weekend in Belgium."
"It was a pity the race started like that because over a race distance we were pretty quick, just like we were in Budapest. At the first corner I had to dive down the inside because the cars in front were braking heavily so I had to avoid them. Then I was hit from behind and basically any hope I had of getting a decent position was finished there and then. But I pushed as hard as possible for the rest of the race to at least get some more data and we showed what might have been by setting the fastest lap right at the end."
John Howett - President
"That was clearly not the result we wanted or expected from this Grand Prix. It has been a very difficult weekend but we must put this behind us and we have another race next week in which to show our true potential. We have to understand why our relative qualifying pace is worse than our relative race pace because our car is reasonably competitive, as Timo showed by setting the fastest lap. We have to get on top of this and take advantage of what the car can offer."