Panasonic Toyota Racing got its Monaco Grand Prix weekend underway today with two 90-minute practice sessions around the twisty Principality streets. As is traditional in Monaco, practice began on Thursday and Jarno was the first driver to set a lap time. However, after half an hour, the team’s progress was interrupted when a major water leak in the garage disabled the telemetry screens. But that did not keep Jarno and Ralf away from the track, with the team improvising to ensure little time was lost due to the burst water pipe. In between the two sessions, the team worked hard to restore all functions and second practice started as normal. Jarno improved his lap time steadily during the 90 minutes and ended the session an encouraging fourth but it was a different story for Ralf. In a session littered with accidents, Ralf caught the kerb on the exit of the Swimming Pool section and lost his nose cone in the barrier with a minute re maining. He finished 20th but the team is confident of an improvement in qualifying tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/05)
First Session 20th; 24 laps completed; Lap Time: 1m 19.799s (+2.826s)
Second Session 20th; 38 laps completed; Lap Time: 1m 18.662s (+2.722s)
"It was not the happiest day for me. There was not as much grip as I would have liked and the car was sliding a bit. But we will work on our set-up before qualifying and I am optimistic we can find an improvement. Unfortunately I did not quite get to the end of the second practice. I caught the kerb quite hard and that put me into the tyre barrier and damaged the car a bit. I was on a strong lap so my final position does not really show what we were capable of today. I am fine after the crash and the team will be able to repair the damage in time for tomorrow’s sessions."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/04)
First Session 19th; 22 laps completed; Lap Time: 1m 19.496s (+2.523s)
Second Session 4th; 39 laps completed; Lap Time: 1m 16.354s (+0.414s)
"Today was a bit difficult in general because we had the odd problem and also some bad luck this morning in the first session. The burst pipe this morning cost us a bit of time and also affected our data as well. But the guys did well to fix everything and we went through our programme quite successfully in the afternoon. The car is still a bit difficult to drive and we still have to work a lot in order to make it better. I am missing some grip and we have some graining on the tyres but I was pleased with my lap time in the second session. All in all it looks quite promising and I am hopeful we can build on this. You can never know how things will go at Monaco but I am always confident and I am hopeful of a strong result."
Dieter Gass – Chief Engineer Race and Test
"It was a day of mixed emotions. First of all I’d like to sa y what a good job the guys did repairing the damage done by the burst water pipe in the garage this morning. They worked exceptionally hard to get things working properly again. On the track, we had a very smooth run with Jarno. We went through our complete programme and got the information that we wanted to and we are in good shape. Unfortunately Ralf went too hard on the kerbs in the last chicane when he was on his quickest lap of the day. He crashed into the barrier and that meant he could not show what he and the car are capable of so his position is not representative. From here we are going to analyse the data and make the best out of it for Saturday. It has been the start we expected and we are confident for qualifying and the race."