Panasonic Toyota Racing will tonight begin its journey back across the Atlantic Ocean with five points in the bag after Jarno Trulli took 4th place at today's US Grand Prix. On a scorching hot day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the race was interrupted by an accident at the first corner that took seven cars out of contention. Jarno faced the toughest of afternoons, starting from the pit lane after the team changed his rear suspension following yesterday's problem in qualifying. But the Italian made the most of the early laps and was up to 8th place by lap 10. Running on a one-stop strategy he made up more ground and his finish added to his points from Canada last week. Ralf Schumacher started 8th on the grid and he was able to avoid the carnage at the start. He ran another strong race and held 5th place when he was forced to retire with a bearing failure on his front left wheel just ten laps from home. The Toyota team is next scheduled to test at Spain's Jerez circuit th is week in preparation for the French Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.
"Even though I was starting from the pit lane, I knew we had a big chance today because the car was quick. So it was a pity about yesterday but nevertheless I knew we could make up ground by pushing hard. I had a bit of luck because I could profit from the pile-up at the first corner and the safety car period. But I'm very happy because I was able to match the times of the other runners in the early stages despite having more fuel on board. The team did a great job analysing the data and in the end to finish 4th is a great result. I'm the kind of person who always wants more so we're disappointed to have narrowly missed out on the podium. But after everything that has gone wrong for me this year, it's great to have a day when everything goes right. Now I'm really confident for the rest of the season."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/07B) Race Classification: DNF Qualifying Classification: 8th
Time: 1m12.795s (+1.963s in Session 3)
"Today we were looking good for a strong points finish until our problem late on. I had a very long brake pedal so I had to come in. Then the team found that we had a wheel bearing failure on our front left. It was a very difficult race today because it was so hot out there. I also had a hard job keeping the car balanced because there was a slight difference in grip levels between my sets of tyres so that made it more difficult to drive. The failure was unfortunate because I was in a comfortable 5th place and those points would have been great news for the team. Nevertheless our performance this weekend shows that the development of our car is very advanced. But we need to keep pushing for reliability as we search for more points in the coming races."
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"First we are delighted that the American race fans saw a proper F1 race today. For Toyota, Jarno made an exceptional race from the pit lane. But he was confident before the race because our car was obviously fast this weekend. We went for a one-stop strategy because he was starting so far back and our Bridgestone tyres looked so consistent. Everything went well for him – including the accident and the safety car period – but his pace was very strong throughout the race even on heavy fuel loads. In the end we were fighting Fisichella and though we lost third by a couple of seconds we are very happy. Of course it hurts that we had another retirement with Ralf. It's a pity that he had a wheel bearing failure because he ran a very good race. Despite the fact that he was held up behind Barrichello early he was still able to pass Alonso at the last stop. So we need to work hard to improve our reliability. But our pace shows that we are getting nearer to the top cars. We must now p ush to continue our development programme so we can catch them. We haven't given up on our aim of winning our first race this season."