Panasonic Toyota Racing today returned to competitive action after a break of nearly five months as the team took part in free practice for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix. On a warm Friday at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit, the only grand prix venue in the middle of a desert, Toyota drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had a difficult start to their preparations for the first race of 2006. Ralf completed his programme of set-up and tyre comparison but Jarno suffered an electronics problem with 15 minutes remaining. Toyota will now look to learn from today's data as it pushes to improve over the rest of the weekend.
NEW WORK STATE OF MIND
After winter in Europe, a refreshed Ralf Schumacher returned to action in the warmth of Bahrain.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/05) First Session Classification: 22nd, 1 lap completed No lap time Second Session Classification: 22nd, 18 laps completed Lap Time: 1m35.170s (+3.817s)
"This year we no longer have Ricardo Zonta driving on Fridays but my free practice programme is not hugely different. We didn't do much running in the first session while the track was at its dirtiest but we got through our programme without technical problems in session two, collecting some useful data. Our lap times were not to the level of some but we are still learning how to make the most of our package in warm conditions. We have a lot of changes on our car from last year and all our testing so far has taken place at lower temperatures. We will analyse the data tonight to make our tyre choice for the next two days."
Jarno Trulli missed out on some running due to an electronics problem in the second session of practice.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/04)
First Session Classification: 21st, 2 laps completed No lap time Second Session Classification: 24th, 11 laps completed Lap Time: 1m35.898s (+4.545s)
"It was a pity that I was not able to complete my afternoon's work today. The Sakhir circuit was initially very dusty and dirty so like many teams we did most of our running in the second session. I was in the start of a long run for tyre comparison when I suffered an electronics problem which brought my session to a premature close. Not the best of days, then, but at least we have some data to work with overnight in preparation for tomorrow. It will be a brand new system of qualifying but the approach will be the same, to put together a quick lap when it matters."
It was a hard day's work for Panasonic Toyota Racing around the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis "That was a difficult first day for us. We had a very conservative programme for the two free practice sessions. Unfortunately we had an electronics problem which stopped Jarno's car before he'd done any really meaningful running. Ralf was able to complete his limited programme but I think we have to wait until tomorrow to see our true level of competitiveness. It's a new situation for us to run without the third car on Fridays, but as one of the top four teams that's how it will be so we have to learn to cope with that. Certainly today we've been struggling for grip and to get the tyre in the right operating window. But some of our fellow Bridgestone runners ran quite competitively so that's hopeful for tomorrow."