Panasonic Toyota Racing will line up with one car in the top ten of the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix after a mixed qualifying session at Sakhir. Following a week of unusual weather around the kingdom of Bahrain including heavy thunderstorms, there were spots of rain during morning practice but qualifying stayed dry. Unfortunately Ralf Schumacher missed half the morning session due to a problem changing his rear suspension so that compromised him coming into the afternoon. He was unable to make it into Q3 and he will line up 14th tomorrow. Jarno had a better day’s work, comfortably making it into the final shoot-out and ending up with 9th place. Toyota will now push to make the most of these positions tomorrow and chase a third consecutive points finish in the race.
Free Practice Session 3 14th Lap Time: 1m 33.724s (+1.181s)
Q1 6th Lap Time: 1m 33.218s (+0.775s) Laps: 6
Q2 7th Lap Time: 1m 32.429s (+1.070s) Laps: 6
Q3 9th Lap Time: 1m 34.154s (+1.502s) Laps: 10
"It’s good to be in the top ten again but this one was very tough. I managed to do a very good job in Q2, but obviously we had a hard time at the end of the final shoot-out. It’s difficult because it’s slippery out there and all weekend I’ve been struggling with the grip and the balance. Still, the whole team has done a good job so far this weekend and it’s been completely trouble-free for me. Obviously the race is a different story so let’s see what happens tomorrow with the strategy. We’ve done well at the first two races so we can now hope to build on that here. It’s going to be a tough afternoon but we will do our best to score some more points."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/03) PROVISIONAL GRID: 14th
Free Practice Session 3 20th Lap Time: 1m 35.144s (+2.601s) Laps: 11
Q1 15th Lap Time: 1m 33.923s (+1.480s) L
Q2 14th Lap Time: 1m 33.294s (+1.935s) Laps: 6
"This has been another difficult weekend for me so far, just as it was in Malaysia. The car is quick enough but I’ve had problems all weekend adapting it to suit me. I’ve been battling with understeer both yesterday and today and it’s been difficult to set it up for my needs. I missed out on some of this morning’s practice session due to a problem changing our rear suspension so qualifying was a struggle. We certainly hope for a better race but it’s hard to predict what we can achieve from so far back on the grid. Hopefully I will be able to gain some places and it will look better come tomorrow evening."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis
"We have mixed emotions today. All weekend Ralf has had some problems with the car and we have been struggling to adapt the set up to suit him. Then during morning practice while we were changing his rear suspension something went wrong and one of his parts was damaged
so it was impossible to continue. So we did not really help him in his preparations. During qualifying it was already looking better but still Ralf did not make it out of Q2. Jarno fared better and he had quite a gap compared to the car behind him in Q2 so it seemed like we were the fourth quickest team today. Unfortunately his last lap in Q3 was not trouble-free so our final positions are slightly disappointing. Nonetheless overall, compared to the pre-season test here where we appeared particularly poor, it’s clear that we’ve made a very large step forwards. At the beginning of the weekend the tyre specs were pretty close together but as the track improved it is clear that there is now quite a big gulf in performance. Both in the first lap and over long runs the soft spec appeared much better so that seems to be the picture for the season so far. Now we must look to make up ground and chase another strong result tomorrow."