Panasonic Toyota Racing has shown that its TF105 race cars have the pace to mix it with the big boys at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. The teams sights are firmly placed at the front of the field after both TF105s claimed top 5 positions in first qualifying this afternoon with Trulli in a sensational second place, just 0.09s from Fernando Alonso's provisional pole.
SECONDS OUT, ROUND TWO
Jarno started Saturday in spectacular style by breaking the unofficial lap record at the Sepang circuit, lapping quickest in second practice with a 1m32.832s. He went an incredible two-tenths quicker in qualifying, stunning the paddock to post his second second place Saturday qualifying result in the second race weekend of the season.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/03)
First Practice Classification: 5th
Lap Time: 1m35.573s (+0.858s)
Second Practice Classification: 1st
Lap Time: 1m32.832 (Fastest)
First Qualifying Classification: 2nd
Lap Time: 1m32.672s (+0.090s)
"It almost goes without saying that I am very happy with this result. This morning, we worked very well on the set-up of the car and on the tyres. We are showing a strong performance this weekend. I am a little bit more optimistic for tomorrow's race than I was in Australia because we have some new parts on the car here. In fact we will update the car at almost race from now on. I must pass my thanks to the team and especially my crew for this result today."
Ralf continued his impressive form in Malaysia this weekend by scoring the fifth fastest time in qualifying today, although the German is sure that he could have joined his team-mate in the top three had it not been for understeer in the first sector.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/04) First Practice Classification: 6th Lap Time: 1m35.645s (+0.930s)
Second Practice Classification: 4th
Lap Time: 1m32.951 (+0.119s)
First Qualifying Classification: 5th
Lap Time: 1m33.106s (+0.524s)
"Except for the first sector, during which I experienced too much understeer in my car and lost several tenths, I think I had a very decent lap. Also Jarno did a very good job. It is just a pity that a Renault got slightly in front and grabbed provisional pole! I am extremely confident for tomorrow's qualifying and race and I am looking to better my result from today. Panasonic Toyota Racing is looking competitive here in Sepang."
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Two cars in the top five and highly competitive free practice sessions leave Panasonic Toyota Racing in a prime position to take its second consecutive front row grid position in tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mike Gascoyne - Technical Director Chassis "Firstly I would like to say what an excellent job everyone in the race team and in Cologne has done over the winter to get us where we are this weekend. This was the first real dry qualifying session of the season after rain disrupted play in Australia. We have been able to show the full potential of the TF105 over the last two days. The Michelin tyres are working very well and we have no problems going into tomorrow. Ralf unfortunately had too much understeer at the start of his lap, but he was able to match Jarno over the last two sectors. Two cars in the top five is an exceptionally positive start for the team. We need to look carefully at our strategy for second qualifying tomorrow morning to try and take pole and subsequently endeavour to win the race. The top step of the podium must be our aim for tomorrow."