Panasonic Toyota Racing will head into tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix with a lot of work to do after a disappointing performance in today's qualifying. At a windy Sakhir circuit, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher took 14th and 17th places respectively in this afternoon's sessions. The new qualifying system introduced for 2006 consists of three parts – two sessions of 15 minutes after each of which the slowest six cars are eliminated, followed by a 20 minute shoot-out between the remaining ten quickest cars. Unfortunately neither of the Toyota cars made it into the final group so the team will have its work cut out in tomorrow's race. Nevertheless the team will give everything to salvage a strong result from the first race of the season.
BAHRAIN ON MY PARADE
Jarno Trulli will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from 14th place on the grid following today's qualifying sessions.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/04)
Free Practice Session 3: 7th
Lap Time: 1m33.038s (+1.181s)
Qualifying Session 1: 13th
Lap Time: 1m33.987s (+1.554s)
Qualifying Session 2: 14th
Lap Time: 1m33.066s (+1.851s)
"There wasn't a lot more that I could do out there today. In the first session I was on a quick lap when the red flag came out so I had to abandon that. When we started again we hit traffic so it was not very quick but it was good enough to make it through. The two laps I put together in Session 2 were both good laps and they were about as quick as I could have expected. From a driving perspective, the new qualifying system doesn't change very much in the first two sessions. You need the same kind of approach, putting together a lap when it matters with the track getting quicker all the time. Of course there is traffic that we didn't have last year so timing is important. Still, our performance shows that as a team we have a lot of work to do to make it up to the level of the top teams."
Ralf Schumacher will line up in 17th place on the grid for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix after a difficult afternoon.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/05)
Free Practice Session 3: 9th
Lap Time: 1m33.523s (+1.666s)
Qualifying Session 1: 17th
Lap Time: 1m34.702s (+2.269s)
"It is obviously very disappointing that we just missed out on making it through Session 1 today. I was just starting a flying lap when the red flags came out. Then, when everyone went out for their quick laps I was at the back of the pack. I just lost the temperature in the tyres and I couldn't warm up the tyre again before my lap. That meant that I was sliding around for most of the lap and I was not particularly surprised that I didn't make it through to the other sessions. A disappointing day, then, that confirms that we have hard work ahead to force our way up the grid. But it is very early in the season and the full picture of relative performance will only emerge after the first few races."
GULF IN PERFORMANCE
In the wake of today's disappointing qualifying session, Toyota will push hard to gain ground in tomorrow's race.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis "That was a disappointing qualifying session, especially given our performance this morning. After the red flag in the first session, Ralf got caught in traffic and therefore set a time that meant he didn't make it through that session. With Jarno we had reasonable expectations of qualifying in the top ten. But with the track getting quicker and quicker than this morning we didn't seem to be able to improve our lap times as the others did. So it is a disappointing result but it's all part of the learning process. We have to look to get both cars home to the finish tomorrow, hopefully to pick up some points and also hopefully to learn about the performance of the car in race conditions on our tyres. We're free to play with race strategy so we have to look tonight to have the best strategy to get both cars into the points."