Panasonic Toyota Racing enjoyed an encouraging qualifying for the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours this afternoon with both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli qualifying in the top half of the grid. In Q1, both drivers bided their time before hitting the track with Jarno leaving the pits with 12 minutes remaining followed by Ralf two minutes later. In perfect conditions, with track temperature at 43°C after a chilly start to the weekend yesterday, both Toyotas progressed to the next session, with Ralf setting an impressive seventh fastest time. In Q2 as the time ticked away, positions changed rapidly but Jarno progressed to the top-10 shoot-out. However, Ralf, on his 32nd birthday, was unlucky to miss out in the last seconds by a tiny margin and he will start 11th. Jarno kept up his good work in Q3 and his last flying lap was enough to claim eighth place and the team now expects to score more points in tomorrow’s race.
Free Practice Session 3 9th Lap Time: 1m 15.801s (+0.958s) Laps: 19
Q1 15th Lap Time: 1m 16.118s (+1.313s) Laps: 5
Q2 10th Lap Time: 1m 15.379s (+0.584s) Laps: 6
Q3 8th Lap Time: 1m 15.935s (+0.901s) Laps: 11
"That was a good qualifying session and I am pleased with the result. The team and I worked hard on the set-up in practice and I think we got it more or less right, so we were able to get the best out of the car in qualifying. I think I did a good job, and also the team did as well. It took some very good laps at the end of Q2 to get into the final session so I was happy with my performance there. Also in Q3 I think we got the maximum out of the car and my fastest lap was very, very close to the cars in front, just over a tenth away from sixth place. Now I am looking forward to the race. In Indianapolis I started from eighth and did a good job to finish sixth so I am hoping for another strong result."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/05) PROVISIONAL GRID: 11th
Free Practice Session 3 14th Lap Time: 1m 15.944s (+1.101s) Laps: 22
Q1 7th Lap Time: 1m 15.760s (+0.955s) Laps: 6
Q2 11th Lap Time: 1m 15.534s (+0.739s) Laps: 6
"In general I am quite happy. We knew from the beginning that it would be a bit difficult to get into the top 10 but of course that was our target. In Q1 I had a good run and set two quick lap times so I easily made it into the next session. We got one car through to Q3 but the times were very close together in Q2 and I missed out by just a few tenths. My lap was okay but the middle sector wasn’t ideal and I lost a little bit of time there. But I am still positive because anything can happen in the race with the cars so close together. We have to see who has the better strategy tomorrow and also who will manage their tyres the best over a race distance. I am optimistic and my goal is to score points."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis
That was quite a good session for us. The first thing you have to say about today’s qualifying was just how close the times were – only a tenth of a second or so difference could put you towards the front of the grid or quite a bit further down. You could also see a clear difference between the two tyres, with the soft tyre performing better today, although that is of course not necessarily going to be the case tomorrow. Both our drivers did a good job. Ralf performed well, particularly setting the seventh fastest time in Q1, but despite another good lap in Q2 he was unlucky to miss out by a narrow margin. Jarno again qualified well, despite a bit of an issue in Q1 when he thought the red flags were out and backed off, causing him to drop to 15th. But he had clean laps in the next two sessions, setting good times, and his final position is encouraging. Starting from eighth and 11th we are optimistic and our target is to get both cars into the points tomorrow."