With 3000 bottles of water stocked in the fridges for the Malaysian GP, the Panasonic Toyota Racing crew battled an ambient temperature of 39°C in Sepang today and ended Friday free practice in competitive shape. As the action heats up, so too does the team's thirst for points this weekend.
With 670km already on his RVX-05 from Australia, Jarno only completed two installation laps in the first session to conserve his engine for Malaysia. An electronics problem in the second session further reduced his running, but the Italian was still able to post the 11th quickest time and a 20-lap tally.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/03)
First Session Classification: 24th, 2 laps completed No Lap Time Second Session Classification: 11th, 18 laps completed Lap Time: 1m36.841s (+1.233s)
"In this morning's session, I only completed a few laps in order to conserve my engine based on the fact that I did a lot of mileage in Melbourne. In the second session, I had some electronic problems, which limited running. When I was out on track, I encountered traffic, so it is difficult for me to get a clear indication on performance. Looking at the times set by Ralf and Ricardo, I am in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the weekend."
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SEPANG KIND
Ralf Schumacher displayed the potential of the TF105s around the Sepang circuit by setting the fifth fastest time in the second practice session. In the intense heat, Ralf completed 21 laps working on tyre evaluation and baseline set-up for the weekend.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/04) First Session Classification: 11th, 5 laps completed Lap Time: 1m37.168s (+3.076s) Second Session Classification: 5th, 16 laps completed Lap Time: 1m36.159s (+0.230s)
"I think we had a reasonable first day here in Malaysia. We went through all that we needed to and we were able to make our tyre choice. I am quite happy with the car balance, although there are still some areas on which we still need to work and improve. Generally, I think we are looking quite competitive this weekend."
A typical Friday for Ricardo Zonta, as the Brazilian completed the bulk of work in today's two sessions. Tyre evaluation was again the order of the day, with Ricardo comparing prime and option Michelin compounds over his 47 laps. Ricardo posted the fastest time of the day with an impressive 1m34.092s in the first session, a time he believes could have been repeated in the afternoon.
Ricardo Zonta (Car 38, Chassis TF105/02) First Session Classification: 1st, 17 laps completed Lap Time: 1m34.092s (quickest) Second Session Classification: 3rd, 30 laps completed Lap Time: 1m35.677s (+0.069s)
"I enjoy driving at this track, but it is very demanding, both for the driver and for the car. We did a good job on the long runs today and were able to carry out a useful comparison between the two tyre compounds to assess their performance and consistency. I put a new set of tyres at the end of the second session, but a yellow flag in the final sector meant I had to back off. It was a bit of a shame because I could have easily repeated my time from the morning session."
Two cars in the top five and two relatively trouble-free practice sessions has given the Panasonic Toyota Racing team a particularly solid base for the remainder of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend and cause to be optimistic.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis "A productive day with all three cars. Ricardo carried out his usual tyre evaluation and his feedback makes the tyre choice comparatively straight-forward this weekend. In general, the balance of the cars and the consistency over the longer runs looks very promising. Jarno had to stop before the end of the final session with an electronics-related problem, but thankfully it was nothing terminal. Overall, the cars are looking pretty competitive and I think we can be happy with this first day."