Panasonic Toyota Racing will line up with two cars in the top ten of the grid for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix after a strong first qualifying session of 2007. Following yesterday’s rain there were further showers on Saturday morning, affecting the third practice session. Conditions improved and qualifying took place on a dry track under sunny skies. The three sessions were hard fought but both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher made it into Q3, despite a gearbox control glitch for Ralf at the start of Q2. Jarno will line up 8th on the grid with Ralf 9th. Following a hard winter of testing in Europe this is better than many expected. Toyota will now push to make the most of the positions and finish strongly tomorrow.
Free Practice Session 3 13th Lap Time: 1m 27.897s (+1.833s) Laps: 15
Q1 9th Lap Time: 1m 27.014s (+0.370s) Laps: 6
Q2 8th Lap Time: 1m 26.688s (+1.362s) Laps: 6
Q3 8th Lap Time: 1m 28.404s (+2.332s) Laps: 11
"We are all very happy because after a difficult winter of testing we came here without the highest expectations. So to have two cars in the top ten is a good result. I put in a clean lap in Q3 even if I must say the lap itself was not great. That means we probably still have a bit more potential in the car. We showed quite a good performance, better than we expected. Obviously it’s not over yet and we need to race and we need to finish to score some points. But now we can look forward to tomorrow’s race and do our best to come away with a good finish.”
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/03) PROVISIONAL GRID: 9th
Free Practice Session 3 12th Lap Time: 1m 27.887s (+1.823s) Laps: 13
Q1 11th Lap Time: 1m 27.328s (+0.684s) Laps: 7
Q2 9th Lap Time: 1m 26.759s (+1.413s) Laps: 4
Q3 9th Lap Time: 1m 28.692s (+2.620s) Laps: 11 "To come away with 8th and 9th positions is much better than we expected at the start of the session so we are very satisfied. It was not a perfect afternoon for me. We had a gearbox control problem during Q2 so I could only put in one flying lap. Then I made some mistakes on my lap in Q3 so that is why we were pretty average on the times. But it had been a difficult start to the week and the start of the season is usually difficult. So after all that to have both cars in the top ten is a good achievement. We will now do all we can to come away with something from tomorrow’s race. I’ve had some good races here in Melbourne so I hope there can be another one to come.”
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis
"These positions aren’t exactly where we wanted to be but it’s better than we expected given how the weekend has gone so far. We spent most of the morning on race preparation so that is why we showed our capacity to get into the top ten quite late. Ralf did a two-lap run in Q1 when we were on hard tyres and we planned to do several laps to account for possible warm-up problems. With the soft tyres there was obviously only one flying lap possible. In Q2 we had an issue with the gearbox control on Ralf’s car that we solved quite quickly. Our target was to get into Q3 and when we achieved it we only had one set of tyres left, which is why we did only one flying lap. It would be an advantage to have two sets of tyres so we lost time. Still, it’s a decent start and Jarno and Ralf did well. It will be interesting to see how teams manage the two different tyres tomorrow. One is difficult to handle with huge degradation and the other is consistent and quick. We are in a good position so we will push for a strong result."