Panasonic Toyota Racing suffered a frustrating afternoon's work in the San Marino Grand Prix. Both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli qualified in the top ten but they endured mixed fortunes under the sun at Imola. Ralf narrowly missed out on the points, taking 9th place after a battling race on a three-stop strategy. Jarno suffered a problem with his steering column and was forced to retire early on. Toyota is scheduled to test at France's Paul Ricard circuit next week as it bids to make steps forward for the coming races. Then the team will look to bounce back with a stronger performance at the European Grand Prix in two weeks' time.
Ralf Schumacher raced strongly on a three-stop strategy on his way to an eventual 9th place, just outside the points.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/05) Race Classification: 9th
Gap: +45.511s (from race winner)
Qualifying Classification: 6th
Time: 1m23.772s (+0.977s in Session 3)
"It is a pity that we missed out on the points but that was not the best afternoon for me. We had a very aggressive strategy but circumstances played against us. We were a bit unlucky with traffic and the safety car didn't help us but we also struggled for grip in the early stints. The pace improved in the latter stages when I was gaining ground on Fisichella and Button so there must be some problem. I don't think it is related to the tyres because other Bridgestone teams did a good job so we need to investigate where the issue lies. We will test some new items next week and I believe we can improve at the European Grand Prix."
Jarno Trulli's run of misfortune in 2006 continued as he had to retire on lap 5 with a problem with his steering column.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/04)
Race Classification: DNF
Qualifying Classification: 9th
Time: 1m24.172s (+1.377s in Session 3)
"A lot of bad luck seems to be coming my way at the moment and today was no exception. We still have to investigate exactly what happened but something seemed to go wrong with the steering column and that meant I had to retire. It's a pity because we have been looking good all weekend and I was confident that we could have had a better day today. I made a very good start and I made up a place on Raikkonen as I went through the field. Unfortunately the car in front had a moment at the first corner so I had to slow down. It's frustrating because whatever I do, something goes wrong. But I will keep pushing because I know that the team and the package are good. Once everything starts working for me I know I will have a lot of success."
Panasonic Toyota Racing endured a frustrating afternoon at Imola, narrowly missing out on increasing its points haul.
Tsutomu Tomita - Team Principal
"It was a disappointing Sunday for us and the results were not so good. But I'm sure that our car is quicker than it was able to show today. It performed well this weekend and was well matched to the Bridgestone tyre in the conditions. Unfortunately the race started very badly when Jarno had to stop with a mechanical problem with his steering column. We are very disappointed about that so apologies to him. Ralf raced hard on a three-stop strategy which should work here because of the short pit lane. However you risk losing out if you have a safety car in the first stint, which is exactly what happened. That meant the strategy was hampered early on. He had some inconsistency with grip during the race which we need to investigate but Ralf's pace in the last stint when he was free of traffic was good and encouraging. I am sure that our car has the potential to bring better results in the next few races. Nonetheless we clearly need to develop further and push hard to improve perf ormance during the coming tests."