Panasonic Toyota Racing left Spa-Francorchamps disappointed today after Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli finished 10th and 11th respectively in the Belgian Grand Prix, the final European race of the season. Both drivers started in the top 10, with Jarno in 8th, two places in front of Ralf, but the order changed on the run to the first corner. Jarno lost places in the run to the tight La Source hairpin, including a spot to Ralf, but battled on in the midfield traffic before his first pit stop on lap 14, when he changed to the soft Bridgestone Potenza tyres. Ralf worked his way into the points positions before he switched to the soft tyres at the end of lap 20. As the differing strategies played out, Jarno made progress up the field and resumed in 11th after his final pit stop on lap 32. A one-stop strategy helped Ralf fight in the top 10 but, despite his good pace in the closing stages, he missed out on the points and finished just ahead of Jarno. The next engagement is a test at Jerez in Spain, starting on Tuesday, where the team will step up preparations for the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway.
Qualifying Classification: 12th Time: 1m 46.618s (+1.548s in Q2) Grid: 10th
"The race was okay. I did my best and I think we got the best out of the car, but unfortunately it was not quite enough for any points. Looking at it from that perspective, it is frustrating because we pushed the car to the limit and we hoped for more after our competitive pace in practice. On Friday it looked promising but we lost out compared to the other teams and now we need to look at the reasons for that. The next race is at our home track, Fuji Speedway, so the whole team is looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix. Clearly this is an important race. It is disappointing not to score points here but we will push hard to do that in Japan."
Qualifying Classification: 9th Time: 1m 47.798s (+1.804s in Q3) Grid: 8th
"That was a difficult afternoon for me. At the first corner I lost a few places because I had to brake and go on the outside after another car braked late. There was nothing I could do. I fell behind other cars who had more fuel on board and were much slower than me, but it was not possible to overtake because we didn’t have the straightline speed. I expected more from the race and if you look at the performance of the car when I was not in traffic, we were quite competitive and I was happy with the balance. Now we will focus on Fuji Speedway for the Japanese Grand Prix and I hope we can get a better result in our home race. We will be working hard in the test this week to improve and we will try our best as always."
Tadashi Yamashina – Team Principal
"We were expecting a better result from this race so it is a disappointing result. Our performances earlier in the weekend were quite strong so we were optimistic. Ralf did a good job and considering there were no retirements in front of him that was the best he could do. He was on a one-stop strategy and kept in contact with Kovalainen, who was on a similar strategy. For Jarno, he lost places at the first corner and after the time he lost in traffic, his race was effectively over, even if he did show reasonable race pace later on. Of course now we must prepare for the Japanese Grand Prix. We are focused on Fuji Speedway now and our target is to get a strong result."