Panasonic Toyota Racing will leave Istanbul with two points after an eventful afternoon's work in today's Turkish Grand Prix. On a blisteringly hot day at the Istanbul Park, with track temperatures again above 50 degrees Celsius, Toyota's drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher had it all to do today from their respective grid positions of 12th and 15th. Unfortunately both drivers lost ground on the first lap after they were caught up in the carnage of a major first corner incident that involved nearly half the field. Thankfully both were able to continue, although Ralf had to stop for a new front wing which left him way down the running order. The team switched his strategy to include only one further pit stop and he was able to make it up into the points in an eventual 7th place. Jarno made up a few places with good passing manoeuvres in the early laps but he struggled for grip as the race went on, finishing just outside the points in 9th. Toyota will this week test at Ita ly's Monza circuit in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/10B) Race Classification: 7th
Gap: +59.337s (from race winner)
Qualifying Classification: 5th
Time: 1m27.569s (+0.662s in Q3)
"It was always going to be hard work starting so far back on the grid today so it was a big achievement to score two points. Of course there was also the danger of being caught up in an incident at the first corner here and so it proved. It was chaotic and unfortunately I lost my front wing. I lost time when I pitted to replace it, but at least we were able to fill up with fuel so we would need only one more stop. Early on in the first stint I struggled with understeer on the heavy load but that improved after the safety car and I was able to make up some ground. The balance was good after my second stop and I was able to push hard. Again we have shown a lot of potential this weekend. Now it's just down to us to get it right and avoid any more small problems. That way we can challenge for the podium again soon."
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B)
Race Classification: 9th
Gap: +1 lap (from race winner)
Qualifying Classification: 13th
Time: 1m27.973s (+2.123s in Q2)
"That was a difficult afternoon for me, beginning with the confusion at the start. The first corner here is hard, braking downhill and it will always make for treacherous starts to the races. Today was one of those days and when I was hit from behind I could not avoid hitting a car in front of me. I lost positions and it was a hard battle from there. I enjoyed the first part of the race and made up ground but the main problem for me was the safety car, which came at just the wrong time for me. The car in front of me also slowed down excessively before the field had closed up and it all meant that I lost a lot of the gap that I had gained. But the main problem for me was that my tyre choice was a bit too conservative for the race. Yesterday I was confident because I knew from practice that they would be consistent. But they behaved just as they had in qualifying and it was not enough to challenge any higher."
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"Considering the poor grid positions from which we started the race, today's result was reasonable. But the first part of the weekend left us with too much work to do to compete with the top cars in the race. Then the race got off to a bad start when both our drivers were involved in the first corner incident. When Ralf pitted for a new front wing we used the chance to fuel him up and change our strategy to an effective one-stopper. He also damaged some aerodynamic parts and he complained about the balance in the early part of the race. But the safety car played into his hands and from then on his balance improved and he scored a strong points finish. Jarno had a different race and he struggled for grip just as he did in qualifying. So that meant we probably chose tyres that were too hard. He did well in the early laps but the safety car did him no favours considering his strategy. From then on he could not find a good balance but he did well to bring the car home. During the
race I was frustrated that our lap times were a bit off the pace of the top teams. We have four races remaining and we have more new aero parts planned for the remaining races. So we will continue to push hard right to the end of the season."