Panasonic Toyota Racing will start the final race of the 2006 season from a very promising position after Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli both qualified in the top 10 for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. After their double points finish on home ground in Japan two weeks ago, Ralf and Jarno kept up that momentum today. On a relatively cold day in Sao Paulo, both drivers were on the pace from the start and easily made it through Q1 and Q2 on a dry track. Jarno will start from the second row of the grid after a superb lap at the end of Q3 earned him third spot for his best qualifying result of the season. Ralf also showed strong pace throughout and set the seventh fastest time to start from row four. The team is still pushing hard for fifth place in the Constructors' Championship and today's performance gives Ralf and Jarno a great chance to end the year with more points and a result to celebrate.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B)
PROVISIONAL GRID: 3rd
Free Practice Session 3: 20th, 19 laps
Lap Time: 1m14.051s (+2.608s)
Q1: 6th, 8 laps
Lap Time: 1m11.885s (+1.242s)
Q2: 4th, 5 laps
Lap Time: 1m11.343s (+1.030s)
Q3: 3rd, 13 laps
Lap Time: 1m11.328s (+0.648s)
"It is obviously great to be up so high and it has been a good weekend so far for us. We have been pushing hard all season to improve the car and you can see from today that we have definitely made a good step forward. So far this weekend we have looked pretty strong so I am confident because the car is performing well and we have everything we need to have a good race tomorrow. Our Bridgestone tyres are looking very competitive so I am looking forward to tomorrow when I hope I can challenge for the podium. This year I have been close to the podium a few times and it has slipped away with a few laps remaining so it would be great to end the season with a top-three finish. However, our first target for tomorrow will be to take fifth in the Constructors' Championship and for that we will try to score as many points as possible."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/10B) PROVISIONAL GRID: 7th Free Practice Session 3: 16th, 20 laps Lap Time: 1m13.642s (+2.199s)
Q1: 3rd, 8 laps
Lap Time: 1m11.713s (+1.070s)
Q2: 7th, 6 laps
Lap Time: 1m 11.550s (+1.237s)
Q3: 7th, 13 laps
Lap Time: 1m11.685s (+1.015s)
"That was a reasonably good qualifying performance for the team. Jarno did a great job to get third place and seventh is a decent result for me too so both of us are in a positive position for tomorrow. From there we should be able score a good result here. Getting the right balance on the car this weekend has been a bit of a challenge but we worked at it this morning and found a reasonable set-up for qualifying. My lap in Q3 wasn't too bad, it was clean and I didn't make any mistakes but I simply was not quite quick enough to qualify any higher today. But I am looking forward to the race and I hope I can score more points to help the team secure fifth place in the Constructors' Championship."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis "That was a good qualifying session but I would say it is as expected because yesterday we saw we were competitive here and this morning we were working towards the race so our position in third practice was not representative and we knew that. The cold weather conditions could have made it a little bit tricky as it is colder than usual in Brazil but we were expecting that from our weather forecasts and we were able to take it into account when we chose which two tyre compounds to use this weekend. Choosing which of those two to use was quite a difficult decision to make - but it certainly doesn't look too bad now! We had high expectations so we are quite happy with the outcome of the qualifying. Still it could have been a little bit better for both cars, we could have been even further up the grid but we are not complaining. It looks pretty good for tomorrow and we are pretty confident with the race pace."