A hectic first qualifying session around the streets of the Principality ended in disappointment for Panasonic Toyota Racing's Ralf Schumacher. The German clipped the barriers on the inside of the Tabac corner on his flying lap, sending him into the barriers on the other side. Thankfully Ralf was perfectly okay but the session was stopped while the debris was cleared. Unfortunately the incident also affected the lap of Jarno Trulli, who was the first man through the oil and dust on the circuit and had to be more cautious than usual. Jarno still managed a strong 7th place, which sets him up with a good chance of points tomorrow. Now the team will look to make the most out of the unfortunate start to the weekend during second qualifying and the race tomorrow.
Last year's pole sitter Jarno Trulli was given the toughest of tasks as he tried to repeat the feat today. The Italian was forced to sit in his car in the garage while the track was cleared following the accident involving Ralf Schumacher, before being the first man out on an oily and dusty track. Still, his 7th place leaves him in good shape for more points.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/02)
First Practice Classification: 11th
Lap Time: 1m18.215s (+2.018s)
Second Practice Classification: 4th
Lap Time: 1m14.322s (+0.334s)
First Qualifying Classification: 7th
Lap Time: 1m15.189s (+1.545s)
"I'm happy that Ralf is okay after such a big accident. For me, though, it was tough to be the first driver out after an accident like that. Because of the wait it meant that the temperature of the track went down a lot. On my warm-up lap I also found that the track was dusty and slippery. I had no problems with my car but I didn't have enough faith to push as hard as usual, especially through the second sector. All in all, this was not a lucky day and it leaves us a bit further back than we would have liked. But tomorrow is another day, we have another qualifying session in the morning and we will hope to do our best to improve our position."
PAYING THE PENALTY
Ralf Schumacher suffered a heavy crash after he clipped the inside of the Tabac corner during first qualifying. The incident means he will have to start from the back row at this, the hardest circuit on the calendar for overtaking.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/04) First Practice Classification: 3rd Lap Time: 1m16.508s (+0.311s)
Second Practice Classification: 6th
Lap Time: 1m14.459s (+0.471s)
First Qualifying Classification: 18th
Lap Time: No time
"First of all I would like to apologise to the whole Panasonic Toyota Racing team for my mistake today. They have done a great job throughout the whole weekend and I'm sorry that they have no result to show for it. The car was fine around the lap but I clipped the inside of the barrier at Tabac with my left front wheel, which sent me into the other side of the barriers. Thankfully I'm perfectly okay. I got out of the car without any trouble and I have no other problems. But it's been a bad weekend for me and it means that we will be starting from the back tomorrow. Monaco is the hardest race on the calendar to pass but I will give everything to try and end the weekend on a better note."
TOMORROW'S ANOTHER DAY
The Panasonic Toyota Racing team will have a lot of ground to make up on Sunday after its disappointing result in today's first qualifying session.
Dieter Gass – Chief Race Engineer
"This was a very disappointing result. Ralf went off after he touched the inside barrier at Tabac. Then because he lost some oil it obviously resulted in a heavy penalty for Jarno as well. He was the next car out and he didn't have a clean track for his lap, and that's why he lost time on the leading cars. So all in all it was the maximum possible disadvantage for us. That is a pity because both drivers were happy with their cars and hopeful of a good result this afternoon. Now it makes life difficult for us tomorrow, especially for Ralf."