After the punishing double-header to kick off the 2006 season, the Formula 1 world now travels to the other side of the world for round three. For the last decade the Australian Grand Prix has held the honour of opening the calendar but a clash with this month's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne led to this change of schedule. The later start means that the teams can expect slightly cooler weather than usual as the Australian autumn draws in. Panasonic Toyota Racing's drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli will nevertheless hope to continue the learning process that the team has been involved in since its difficult start to the year. Rest assured that Toyota will push to build on its points finish in Malaysia.
DOWN UNDER STREET
After his point in Malaysia, Ralf Schumacher is looking forward to the streets of Melbourne's Albert Park.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7): "After Malaysia I returned to Europe for testing as we look to improve on our start to the year. Heating up the tyres has been a problem for us, so Australia will show us how far we've come. It is not usually particularly warm there and this race is taking place later than usual in their autumn. Because it is a street circuit, the track surface at Melbourne's Albert Park track tends to be dirty, so it could be hard to find grip, especially in the first lap of qualifying. But I do like the circuit – it is one of the most beautiful street circuits there is and also among the safest. The city itself is also one of my favourites on the calendar, so it all combines to make the Australian Grand Prix an exciting event. A difficult weekend awaits but I hope we can continue to push hard and use the data that we have collected so far this year to help pushing up the grid."
MELBOURNE TO RUN
Jarno Trulli is prepared for testing times as Toyota works to solve its problems in the early part of 2006.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8): "Melbourne is a fantastic venue for F1 and the atmosphere is always great. I normally arrive early to put in some training outdoors but this year both Ralf and I returned to Europe last week to test the TF106 at Paul Ricard. I enjoy driving at Albert Park, especially the quick chicane at Turns 11 and 12. The track can be quite bumpy and you need a lot of grip and traction, particularly in the slow corners like Jones, Clark, Ascari and Prost. Given our problems with warming up our tyres in Bahrain the cool weather could be difficult for us but we will use the weekend to understand more about how to make improvements to how our car works with our tyres. There is no question about the motivation of the whole team to get back to the level where we can race at the front of the grid."
Toyota hopes to build on its Malaysia form even with the lower temperatures expected in Australia.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis: "The Malaysian Grand Prix was a big improvement on Bahrain because we were able to get more heat into our tyres. We suffered in Malaysia because of Ralf's engine change and set-up issues with Jarno but now that we have our season back on track we've got to look to have a competitive weekend. Melbourne is a street circuit, so the track will evolve during the weekend. Obviously we will have cooler conditions in Australia so we have to keep a very close eye on getting the tyre to work. But I am sure we now have a better idea of how to do that so I hope we will be able to cope with that particular situation. Our car is gentle on the tyres so we need to push so we are working at the softer end of the range compared to other Bridgestone partners. Then we can look to maintain our upward momentum."