Panasonic Toyota Racing will line up with two cars in the top ten of the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix after a strong qualifying session at Sepang. Today’s action all took place in Malaysia’s usual sweltering conditions but overnight showers around Kuala Lumpur made the track green for morning practice. In the afternoon clouds threatened further rain throughout qualifying but the track stayed dry. The three sessions were hard-fought but both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher made it into Q3 for the second race in a row. In the final shoot-out the Toyota team brought the crucial new tyre runs forward due to the threat of rain which didn’t materialise. Jarno set the 8th fastest time with Ralf 9th. Toyota will now push to make the most of these positions and chase a strong finish in tomorrow’s race.
8th Free Practice Session 3 20th Lap Time: 1m 37.473s (+2.662s) Laps: 16
Q1 7th Lap Time: 1m 35.666s (+0.724s) Laps: 7
Q2 7th Lap Time: 1m 35.255s (+1.198s) Laps: 6
Q3 8th Lap Time: 1m 36.902s (+1.859s) Laps: 10
"That was a good result and again we were able to exploit the car in qualifying trim, which has often been the case. I missed some running this morning due to an electrical problem but I still had a better balance than yesterday. Now we have to see how we can do tomorrow. I’m confident because I’ve always done good races here in Malaysia and the car has always performed better here than at some other circuits. It’s always hot here so this is an issue both for the drivers and the cars, as the heat can lead to mechanical and technical issues. But we were reliable in Australia so we can hope for more of the same. Obviously we now have to make the best of our positions and aim for more points."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/03) PROVISIONAL GRID: 9th
Free Practice Session 3 9th Lap Time: 1m 36.245s (+1.434s) Laps: 20
Q1 10th Lap Time: 1m 35.736s (+0.794s) Laps: 6
Q2 10th Lap Time: 1m 35.595s (+1.538s) Laps: 6
Q3 9th Lap Time: 1m 37.078s (+2.035s) Laps: 9
"In general that was a good qualifying session for us and it’s good to get both cars into the top 10 again. This weekend has been relatively difficult for me because there has not been much grip out there and I’ve had a few balance problems. That’s why I’ve been struggling a bit but overall I’m happy. We’ve had no major problems and no reliability issues so we can look forward to tomorrow. The field is close together and it will be a long, hard race but our goal is to make the points with both cars. We are expecting a dry race but the likelihood of rain increases as the race unfolds. When it really starts to rain here you need to use the full wet tyre but the track can dry quickly so there will be a lot of activity around the pits which should be interesting for the spectators."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis
"It’s good to have made the top ten again to confirm our results from Melbourne. We also have good news that we are close to BMW and quicker here than Renault. But we can’t help but be disappointed because we expected to be P6 at the end of qualifying. Various things didn’t work out but mainly we got it wrong with the weather forecast. We were expecting a shower in the last moments of Q3 so we brought our new tyre run forward and that cost us a few tenths. At the beginning of Q3 we also saw that we hadn’t put the valve cap on Ralf’s rear tyre. He was losing air so we had to bring him in for an unscheduled pit stop. Once again we have prepared more for the race than qualifying and we spent most of the morning on race fuel. Jarno didn’t even put in a low fuel run in practice because of an electrical problem at the end of the session. The tyres are closer than they were in Melbourne and the second spec is easier to manage but there is still quite a no ticeable difference and the soft tyre is faster both over one lap and over a race stint. Now we must look for the best result possible tomorrow."