Panasonic Toyota Racing got preparations for the French Grand Prix underway in unseasonably chilly temperatures at Magny-Cours today. Under grey skies and with track temperatures at just 32°C, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli waited around 30 minutes in first practice before setting their first lap times and enjoyed a trouble-free run until the final seconds. As Jarno pulled into the pit lane at the end of the session, a minor hydraulic issue stopped his car, which was pushed back to the pits. The problem was quickly rectified by the team and both drivers resumed their set-up work. They also took the opportunity to try out the medium and soft Bridgestone Potenza tyres around Magny-Cours after testing the two compounds at Silverstone last week. In second practice, both Ralf and Jarno recorded their best laps of the weekend, putting them 10th and 14th respectively after using the 90 minutes to gather crucial data for the engineers to ana lyse. The team will now work hard to get the best out of the cars in qualifying and the race.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/05)
First Session 17th 26 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 17.168s (+1.786s)
Second Session 10th 41 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 16.184s (+0.731s)
"That was a reasonable day’s work. The car was reliable in both sessions so we did quite a lot of work on different set-ups, as well as getting information on the different tyre compounds. There seems to be quite a bit of difference between the medium and the soft tyres so we will have to look at the data and see what we do in terms of strategy. Track temperature was lower than usual here because of the cooler weather but that didn’t cause any problems and it is the same for everyone anyway. The car definitely improved during the two sessions so I am optimistic for the weekend but the battle in the midfield is very tight so it is difficult to say exactly where we are this week end. Our target for tomorrow is clearly to get into Q3, I was very close to that in Indianapolis and I hope to achieve it this time."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/06)
First Session 10th 26 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 16.603s (+1.221s)
Second Session 14th 46 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 16.285s (+0.832s)
"We went through some set-up work and also looked at tyre performance so it was a productive day and now we understand more about the direction we should take with the car. We suffered from a bit of understeer in some places during the day but in general the car seems quite good. Now we will have to work hard with the information we have and try to make more improvements before qualifying. We will have to wait and see where we stand in terms of performance because it is hard to judge on a Friday. We had a great race in the US with my sixth place but every race is a different challenge and it depends a lot on many variables, things like the weather, how the car is suited to the circuit and so on. For tomorrow I aim to qualify in the top 10 again so I can fight for more points in the race."
Dieter Gass – Chief Engineer Race and Test
"Overall we had a trouble-free Friday, at least when it came to our running during the sessions. However, we did have a small hydraulic issue this morning on Jarno’s car but it was at the very end of the session when he was returning to the pits so it didn’t cost us any time and we completed a full programme on both cars. We worked through all the items that we wanted to test and now we have a lot of information on set-up and the tyres. As usual, we now have to analyse all the data that we collected today and see where we go from here to prepare for qualifying tomorrow. In general, as it usually is here at Magny-Cours, the lap times are very close together, with less than a second separating the top 15 drivers so we are still looking forward to a competitive weekend. Now we have to see what happens with the weather for Sunday to see if there is any rain coming."