Panasonic Toyota Racing
Japanese Grand Prix - Free Practice Round-Up
Panasonic Toyota Racing began preparations for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix under grey clouds on a damp Friday of practice at Suzuka. A wet track disrupted first practice for race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli as they attempted to get ready for the team's home race and they put in just one installation lap each. The team did more work to evaluate the TF106B around Suzuka's sweeping curves in the afternoon on a drying track. Lap times improved as the session went on and both drivers set their best laps in the final seconds after collecting vital data as they prepare for the serious business of qualifying and the race.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/10B) First Session Classification: 26th, 1 lap completed No lap time Second Session Classification: 11th, 12 laps completed Lap Time: 1m35.375s (+1.038s)
"The session went well, we had no real problems. Obviously due to the wet conditions at the start of the second practice session we had to wait before we could get a lap in. Early on the track was a bit damp but it got better and better as the sun came out. The car seems to be handling well but consistency was not really possible in the changing conditions. It is a bit difficult to know what tyre we should go for tomorrow as we have had so little time on a dry track but hopefully we will have a better idea of that after the practice session tomorrow. I think our home fans can expect a strong performance but we will have to wait and see exactly where we end up. I still think our car is capable of finishing on the podium in the right circumstances but we have to push hard and get all the elements in place."
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B)
First Session Classification: 25th, 1 lap completed No lap time Second Session Classification: 9th, 12 laps completed Lap Time: 1m35.343s (+1.006s)
"That was a difficult session because it was damp at the beginning and then dried out. Towards the end the track began to dry as the weather improved and we managed to do a few laps on dry tyres in the last few minutes but there is very little we can say about the session due to the conditions. Thanks to the rain this morning we only completed one installation lap in first practice. We had a new engine in the car today after our retirement in China and that looks like being a little step forward, hopefully it will help us. As this is the team's home race, we expect to put up a strong challenge and I hope today is the start of a good weekend."
Dieter Gass – Chief Engineer Race and Test "We had a limited amount of time to work on the set-up of the car due to the conditions but we know what is required at Suzuka so that should not be a problem. I think it was a productive day for us. We had the opportunity to check the car balance on wet and dry tyres this afternoon and we will obviously have to look into the comparisons again tomorrow morning before we decide which tyres to choose. We are quite used to finalising our tyre choice on a Saturday morning so I don't think that is going to be a big problem for us. We encountered some graining on the front tyres but we think that will improve once the circuit gets rubbered in. Of course, we are still optimistic for the weekend."