Panasonic Toyota Racing will leave Kuala Lumpur with two points following Jarno Trulli’s 7th place finish at today’s Malaysian Grand Prix. After the mixed weather of the previous few days, the race took place on a sunny day of typically oppressive Malaysian heat. Track temperatures topped 50 degrees Celsius, making for a hard day’s work for all the drivers. Following yesterday’s strong performance in qualifying, Jarno and team-mate Ralf Schumacher lined up in 8th and 9th on the grid. Unfortunately both lost ground at the start and from there it was a long, hard race for both drivers. Jarno stayed in the top ten all race on his way to the points. Ralf was less fortunate and lost further ground when he suffered a slow puncture shortly after his first pit stop and had to fuel until the end of the race, eventually taking 15th place. After starting the year with two successive points finishes, Toyota will no w begin its journey to Bahrain for the third round of the championship next Sunday, April 15.
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/04)
Race Classification 7th Gap: +70.132s Tyre Strategy: Hard Soft Soft
Qualifying Classification 8th Time: 1m 36.902s (+1.859s in Q3) Grid: 8th
"I’m happy to have come home in the points and I’ve had a good weekend. I fought hard throughout, the car worked well and we made the most of everything. The only pity was the start which wasn’t so great and meant that I ended up behind Fisichella for much of the race. I was quicker than him in the first stint but at this circuit whoever’s in front tends to stay there. Still, we kept up a good pace and I was able to put in consistently quick laps until the last ten laps when I couldn’t attack any harder due to some minor technical problems. Nevertheless this is a good result and I’d like to thank the team because we made no mistakes throughout the weekend."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/03)
Race Classification 15th Gap: +1 lap Tyre Strategy: Soft Soft Hard
Qualifying Classification 9th Time: 1m 37.078s (+2.035s in Q3) Grid: 9th
"It’s been a difficult weekend for me since the start and today was one of those days when everything went wrong. The car didn’t get away well and then I had to avoid Jarno and I lost a few places. From then on I was stuck in traffic for the first part of the race. Shortly after my first pit stop I had a slow puncture and I needed to make another unscheduled pit stop. That meant I was heavy on fuel and the balance was not good. In general it was a tough race for no points. But Bahrain is coming next and I hope to do better there. Jarno’s result shows that we have the pace to challenge with both cars."
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"We have to be satisfied with this result because we have made some progress here compared to Melbourne, especially in terms of race pace. The weekend started quite well as we again got both cars into t he top ten. But the starts were a problem for both cars so we lost a number of places and both cars were blocked behind slower cars for the first stint, losing over 10 seconds. Passing is extremely difficult here as we saw throughout the field. But Jarno had a strong race today in extreme conditions with very high temperatures. We made a good decision to put him on the harder tyres for the first stint but he couldn’t take advantage because of the traffic. Ralf was less fortunate and soon after his first pit stop he suffered a slow puncture. That’s why he had to come into the pits at the worst possible time for his strategy. He was due to have his last stint on the harder tyre but because we had to fill him up until the end, that put him out of contention. In the heat of Sepang it is not good to run on a full tank of fuel but he still raced well and brought the car home. We took 8th and 9th places in Melbourne whereas here it was 7th and 15th but the actual performance was be tter here. In Melbourne we were quite far away in terms of pace. The good news here is that during Jarno’s second and third stints his lap times were not far off the front-runners. If we had made better starts he could have kept the Renaults behind. So if we continue developing I hope that we can get even closer to the front."