Panasonic Toyota Racing will line up with two drivers in the top five of the grid for tomorrow's French Grand Prix after today's hour of qualifying at Magny-Cours. On a hot and sunny day at the Circuit de Nevers the track temperature exceeded 50 degrees Celsius and Toyota displayed suitably scorching pace. Both drivers showed the potential of the TF106B in Q1, with Jarno Trulli fastest of all and Ralf Schumacher just behind with the third quickest time. That pattern continued into Q2, with Ralf securing the second best lap and Jarno 6th. In Q3, which has been shortened from this race onwards to 15 minutes from 20 minutes, both drivers had clear final laps with Jarno taking 4th place and Ralf 5th. Toyota will now look to make the most of its best qualifying performance of 2006 in tomorrow's race.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B)
PROVISIONAL GRID: 4th
Free Practice Session 3: 3rd, 18 laps
Lap Time: 1m17.056s (+0.051s)
Q1: 1st, 6 laps
Lap Time: 1m15.550s (Fastest)
Q2: 6th, 3 laps
Lap Time: 1m15.776s (+0.665s)
Q3: 4th, 12 laps
Lap Time: 1m16.036s (+0.543s)
"In the last few months the team has been working really hard and by consequence we have a good car at the moment. We have been quick all weekend and I'm pleased to be 4th here so thanks to all the Toyota team. It looks like the tyres are very competitive as well so thanks to Bridgestone which is also doing a very good job. The change from 20 minutes to 15 minutes in Q3 doesn't really affect anything for the driver, it just means a bit less time for burning fuel. I made a few mistakes on my fastest lap so I probably could have done better. But we have a strong package and everything has gone well here so far so I just hope for another good race tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/09B) PROVISIONAL GRID: 5th Free Practice Session 3: 9th, 18 laps Lap Time: 1m17.666s (+0.661s)
Q1: 3rd, 6 laps
Lap Time: 1m15.949s (+0.399s)
Q2: 2nd, 3 laps
Lap Time: 1m15.625s (+0.514s)
Q3: 5th, 12 laps
Lap Time: 1m16.091s (+0.598s)
"The whole weekend we have shown that the car has been performing well and up to speed, so it has been a good two days for us. I'm sure that Bridgestone again has the upper hand on the tyre front but as a team we have also done a good job. My sessions went pretty smoothly today. I lost a bit of time on my first lap in Q1 due to traffic but the second lap was clear. Q2 went better and I was able to post the second quickest time. My last lap in Q3 was also pretty pain-free and considering the strategy that we have we can be quite satisfied. We are confident about our race pace so now let's see what we can achieve tomorrow."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis "It's obviously very satisfying to record our best qualifying performance of the season so that was a good day's work. When we introduced the TF106B in Monaco we announced that it would provide the platform for regular aerodynamic upgrades. Since then we have adapted our aero package at every race and now we are reaping the rewards. The whole weekend has actually gone very smoothly so far because our performance has been very consistent in all the practice sessions. So we already knew yesterday that we had a good chance to perform well and this is where we expected to be on the grid. This morning's practice session went well and as usual we stayed on used tyres to assess the race performance. In qualifying we had no major issues with traffic and both drivers put in good laps. We are also very happy with our Bridgestone tyres, which are consistent and also showed this afternoon that they have good first lap pace. So far so good, then, and now we can look forward to what will be an interesting race tomorrow."