Panasonic Toyota Racing hit the track at the Nürburgring today with two 90-minute practice sessions for the European Grand Prix. With the team’s factory only an hour’s drive away in Cologne, Toyota is the local team and both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli have plenty of experience of the Nürburgring. After the early-morning mist cleared, first practice began with track temperatures of 26°C and both drivers completed over half a race distance, with Ralf setting the 7th fastest time, and Jarno the 11th. Soon after that session ended, a thunderstorm hit but the rain stopped in time for second practice, which began on a damp track. The team waited until conditions improved enough for dry, grooved Bridgestone Potenza tyres after around 30 minutes. Track conditions continued to improve, as did the lap times of Ralf and Jarno, who ended the session strongly, in fifth and sixth respectively. The team will now analyse the data from today’s ext ensive running and push for similarly strong results in qualifying tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/05)
First Session 7th 32 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 33.825s (+1.310s)
Second Session 5th 18 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 33.668s (+0.329s)
"We had a good two sessions today. It’s good to be back driving in front of my home fans again and I am pretty happy with the work we did, and especially with our lap times. In the last few races we have changed a few things with our set-up and that has helped. My pace was quite competitive in France and Silverstone, even if the results were not there, and that seems to apply to this circuit as well. We worked on the car set-up, as well as understanding the tyres on this track, and everything went well. The team has a lot of information now, more than we expected because the rain stopped earlier than predicted, which gave us the chance to do a few more laps than usual. We are pushing very har d and my target for tomorrow is to get into Q3 again, which will give us the opportunity to fight for points. We will work on the car before qualifying and I am feeling optimistic."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/04)
First Session 11th 34 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 34.152s (+1.637s)
Second Session 6th 22 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 33.746s (+0.407s)
"It was a reasonable session for me. You can see from our lap times that I was really competitive today. It’s a shame that in the end I had traffic on my quickest lap in P2, so I lost a bit of time – otherwise I could have been even faster and further up the results. But nevertheless it is important that we are going in the right direction and making progress. We want to score points in every race this year so we want a good result this weekend for everyone at the team, especially as this is a home race for us. As always, we are fighting hard but every race is a different story so we will h ave to see what happens tomorrow in qualifying. I am aiming to qualify once again in the top 10, even though the competition is very tough. If we can improve the car a little bit tomorrow before qualifying, we can have a good weekend."
Dieter Gass – Chief Engineer Race and Test
"It was a very productive Friday for us. We changed our programme slightly in the morning because we had some rain forecast for during the afternoon session. The rain did arrive but it stopped a little bit earlier than predicted, which gave us the possibility to do some additional work on the dry set-up and this will help our preparations for Saturday and Sunday. Initially, after the rain, the track took a bit of time to come back to the best conditions but towards the end of the session it was fine. We had two completely trouble-free sessions which was good and allowed us to do a lot of work on the tyres and the set-up of the car. We gathered a lot of data on both the medium and soft tyres and we are in a good position to decide our strategy. Generally, we seem to be in quite good shape and we hope to carry that through the rest of the weekend."