Panasonic Toyota Racing left Magny-Cours frustrated after a disappointing French Grand Prix saw Ralf Schumacher finish 10th while Jarno Trulli retired. Showers were threatened during the afternoon but the race started in cloudy and dry conditions, with track temperatures at 37°C. Jarno lined up 8th but as the field bunched up approaching the hairpin, he hit the rear of Heikki Kovalainen’s car, damaging his front wing and forcing him to limp back to the pits. Unfortunately the car’s suspension was also damaged and he was forced to retire immediately. Ralf made a clean start from 11th but lost two positions in the aftermath of Jarno’s accident, although he quickly began to put pressure on the cars ahead. When he made his first pit stop on lap 28 he returned to a clear track in front of him, giving him the chance to show his true pace. Some quick laps meant he made up a position at the first round of stops and he steadily closed the ga p on the cars ahead. However, despite a spirited drive before and after his final stop on lap 53, he missed out on points and the team now aim to add to its tally in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next Sunday.
Qualifying Classification: 11th Time: 1m 18.539s (+0.739s in Q2) Grid: 11th
"The race went quite well apart from the first lap. It’s a shame that we didn’t score points because our pace was competitive. The circumstances on the first lap, when Jarno hit Kovalainen at the hairpin, were unfortunate for me. I couldn’t go anywhere and lost a couple of positions as everyone tried to get through the corner safely so I was a bit unlucky. I was a lot quicker than Barrichello but I couldn’t overtake. From there on the race was difficult and I lost 20 seconds before my first pit stop. We kept fighting and put some good lap times in, which showed the potential of the car. We are continuously developing the car and I’m sure we will make more progress to improve the car. Silverstone is a different track and a new race. We had a promising test their recently so I hope to score some points."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/06)
Race Classification: DNF Tyres Used: Medium
Qualifying Classification: 8th Time: 1m 15.935s (+0.901s in Q3) Grid: 8th
"It was a racing accident. The field was very bunched up on the first lap and to be honest I just misjudged it going into the hairpin. I was not attacking anyone but I just braked too late and I hit Kovalainen. I am really sorry for him because it spoiled his race, and mine as well. Unfortunately I just made a mistake. The impact damaged my suspension as well as my front wing. I got back to the pits but there was no way for us to continue. It’s a real shame because I am confident we had a good strategy and I expected to score points today. But the next race is very soon and with everyone in t he team working so hard I am sure we will get a better result at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix."
Tadashi Yamashina – Team Principal
"Today this result is not actually that good but there are two or three better things. One would be the competitive performance from Ralf, especially over long runs when he was not held up in traffic. His performance was very good and you could see from his lap times that we had the pace to finish much higher. Unfortunately he lost places after Jarno’s accident and that cost him 20 seconds on his first stint. Without that he would have scored points today. I am sure Jarno would also have scored points. Another positive was that our launch at the start was good. Clearly Jarno hit Kovalainen but he was challenging for a top six place and I am very glad to see him racing at that end of the grid. Finally, we had no reliability issues, the cars ran without major trouble all weekend and the team did a very good job. I am proud of them."