Panasonic Toyota Racing suffered a desperately disappointing end to the 2006 season after both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli retired from promising positions in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Both drivers made strong starts, with Jarno winning a wheel to wheel battle with Fernando Alonso to hold third as Ralf battled with the BMW Saubers in the first corner. An accident further back brought out the safety car on lap two and when the race resumed four laps later Jarno again kept Alonso at bay and started to put pressure on second place as Ralf pushed to move back into the points. However, the team's race was over soon after when a problem with the central element of the rear suspension forced both Jarno and Ralf to pull into the pits and retire, on laps 11 and 10 respectively. The team will now focus its energies on next season when it hopes to bounce back after a difficult and challenging 2006.
Jarno Trulli (Car 8, Chassis TF106/08B)
Race Classification: DNF
Qualifying Classification: 3rd
Time: 1m11.328s (+0.648s in Q3)
"There was a problem with the central element on the rear suspension. The car was jumping around a lot and I was not fully in control - probably the bumps here at Interlagos made it worse. It is very unfortunate because I was having a strong race. After the safety car period, my tyres were just getting up to temperature and I was attacking Raikkonen. I am very disappointed because my car was extremely quick this weekend and we had a good strategy today. It seems every time I have been doing a good race this year I have had a problem and have had to retire. It has been a very difficult season for me, very unlucky. I lost one podium in Monaco, one probably in Magny-Cours and once again here. But I have to thank all the team because in a hard situation they have pulled together and worked fantastically to face our problems."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7, Chassis TF106/10B) Race Classification: DNF Qualifying Classification: 7th
Time: 1m11.685s (+1.015s in Q3)
"That was the hardest possible way to finish the season. We made a reasonable start and were initially in good shape. Unfortunately, immediately after the restart following the safety car period, we developed a problem at the rear of the car with the central element on the suspension. That made the car impossible to drive. It was not safe to continue like that so I had to retire. It was the same problem for both cars and the same as the problem Jarno had in qualifying at Indianapolis earlier in the season. It is a particular pity because things were looking good for the team. We both qualified well and we were expecting a strong result today. Unfortunately it was not to be today but I know how hard the team has worked all year so I would like to thank them."
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"Before the start of the race everything was okay - we were looking fine, the car was quick and the two drivers were motivated. The start was good but just after starting the race we suffered from serious problems – it was like a bad dream. It is still unbelievable for me. We were obviously very fast and we had fuel for 23 and 24 laps as a result of the safety car so we were a bit heavier than most of the other cars around us. According to what we have seen from the other cars we had a good chance of taking second place. Both cars experienced a rear suspension failure of the central element, which was not a new part. Ralf made it clear he had a problem immediately after the safety car and then Jarno suffered the same two laps later. It is probably due to the bumpy nature of the track but of course we knew that would be the case here at Interlagos and we should have been prepared for that. I have to say we are very sorry to Toyota's fans and the Toyota family companies. We are
very disappointed but this is racing and sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. However, we believe we are moving in the right direction and now we will have to work hard for next year."