Panasonic Toyota Racing will leave Melbourne with a solitary point courtesy of Ralf Schumacher’s eighth place at today’s Australian Grand Prix. Jarno Trulli was next home in 9th place, just outside the points on a sunny day at Albert Park when track temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius. After yesterday’s strong performance in qualifying, Jarno and Ralf lined up in 8th and 9th on the grid. Ralf made it in front into the first corner and the pair ran in line astern for most of the first stint. The race spaced out after that but they ended up coming home in the same positions. The 2007 rules state that all cars must use both types of tyre during the race and both drivers used the softer tyre for their final stint. Towards the end of the race Ralf started to lose pneumatic pressure in his engine but he made it home to kick off the team’s account for 2007. Toyota is next scheduled to test at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit starting on March 27 as it looks to build on this result at ne xt month’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/03)
Race Classification 8th Gap: +1 lap (from race winner)
Qualifying Classification 9th Time: 1m 28.692s (+2.620s in Q3) Grid: 9th
"We had expected to be in the top ten but to bring two cars home is a good result in the first race. The conditions were good for the race but the car was a little difficult so it was hard work at times. Towards the end of the race we had a problem with pneumatic pressure but we made it to the finish and it’s good to come away with a point. We became faster towards the end and the strategy worked well, we just need to work on the speed now. We have some performance to catch up so we have to develop our car to get closer. I remain confident because the chance is there to improve. It will just be a matter of concentrating on each area and working hard."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/04)
Race Classification 9th Gap: +1 lap (from race winner)
Qualifying Classification 8th Time: 1m 28.404s (+2.332s in Q3) Grid: 8th
"That was a difficult afternoon for me and it was a pity that I just missed out on the points. The car made a poor start and I lost two places into the first corner. I made a good move to gain one back on the first lap but then I was held up behind Ralf for the first stint. I lost more time when Fisichella pulled out of the pits in front of me. I couldn’t get past him and because he was heavy on fuel I lost ground. From then on I was unable to make much more impact. The balance of the car was not too bad but there was no way to gain places. Later I had trouble with my brakes so my pace dropped further. Still, we made the finish and after our hard winter of testing it has been a reasonable weekend."
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"After the first race of this season we have a valuable one point from Ralf so that is a good start. The starting grid positions were not bad but the race pace of both cars was not quick enough compared to the front-runners. So we are definitely too far away compared to where we want to be and we have some work to do. Jarno had an oil spillage as he left for the parade lap but that was not a major issue. Later on Ralf had a pneumatic consumption problem and it was marginal to reach the finish. Jarno also had trouble with his brakes but in the end it was successful because they both finished the race. After our trouble with reliability during winter testing that is gratifying. The tyres were good but there was some degradation during the final stint on soft tyres. Nevertheless, in good track conditions and good weather, we were not competitive enough so we have to keep working hard to develop our cars."