Panasonic Toyota Racing
French Grand Prix - Preview
Panasonic Toyota Racing returns to Europe this weekend following its North American double-header, with the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. After Jarno Trulli scored his best result of the season with sixth place at Indianapolis last time out, the team is in a confident mood. After the North American races, Jarno and Ralf Schumacher spent time testing the TF107 at Silverstone last week and both drivers set fast laps during a trouble-free three days. The Magny Cours circuit in central France, which has hosted the French Grand Prix since 1991, sees a return to more standard aerodynamic set-ups and the team will benefit from several aero updates to the car. Last year’s race saw strong performances from both Ralf and Jarno, with Ralf recording fourth place while a brake problem denied Jarno a podium finish. That gives the team encouragement ahead of the 2007 French Grand Prix and it will push hard to record more points as the first half of the season draws to a close.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11): "I have a good record at Magny Cours – I have happy memories of my first pole position there in 2001 and victory there in 2003. But apart from that, I can’t say I am that keen on Magny Cours from a driving perspective. To retire from the race at the first corner in the last race at Indianapolis was obviously very disappointing, especially after a pretty good qualifying performance but I am determined to have a better race in France. Jarno’s result demonstrated what the team can achieve and I expect us to be fighting for points again. I had the chance to test at Silverstone for a day last week which was productive and I also recorded the fastest lap time of the day. It went well and we had no problems at all with the car. I am reasonably optimistic we can fight for points again this weekend. Also, it is my 32nd birthday on Saturday so I’m hoping for a strong qualifying to celebrate and then some points would be a good present!"
Jarno Trulli (Car 12): "Personally, I enjoy visiting France and I have had some good results at Magny Cours. In the past I have spent time working for French teams, and I also speak French, so I have a good relationship with the French fans and I always feel very much at home there. As a circuit, Magny Cours is an interesting place to drive because the fast, sweeping corners and the quick chicanes make it very technical. This means we need a stable car with good handling which is comfortable in different types of corner. We will be working hard on that from the start of practice on Friday. I had a fantastic result in Indianapolis after a really great job by myself and the team. At the start of the weekend I did not expect to finish as high as sixth but we made no mistakes and we had perfect reliability. This shows we are capable of strong results and I am optimistic we can fight at the front again in France."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: "We have some updates on the car in terms of the aerodynamic package because we are now returning to a track which requires our baseline package. Ever since Monaco we have been using special aero packages – Monaco because it is of course high downforce but also Canada and Indianapolis, which are closer to a low downforce package. In France we will return to a package closer to that which we used in Barcelona, although we have since developed it and there will be new aero parts this weekend. At Indianapolis we were comparatively not as strong in low downforce, low grip conditions as we had been in Barcelona so we are looking forward with optimism to returning to the package which we have focused most of our effort on. Jarno drove a great race in Indianapolis to get sixth and that clearly demonstrates that the car has the potential to fight at the front. We expect to close the gap on the group ahead of us and we are hopeful of another strong points-scoring performance in France."