Panasonic Toyota Racing got a positive first proper taste of the revamped Fuji Speedway when practice for the Japanese Grand Prix began today. The circuit, in the shadow of the imposing Mount Fuji, held its first Formula 1 session since 1977 on a bright day, with the air temperature at 25°C. A relatively clear morning meant the peak of Mount Fuji was visible as Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli began work evaluating set-ups and gathering tyre data. The first session went smoothly and the team performed vital work acclimatising to the demands of the new track. Both drivers completed even more laps in the second session as they fine-tuned set-up and improved the balance of the car, with Ralf ending the day having completed 68 laps and Jarno 67. The team will now work on extracting the most from the car tomorrow as Ralf and Jarno fight for a strong result on home ground.
Jarno Trulli (Car 12, Chassis TF107/04)
First Session 8th 32 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 20.483s (+1.364s)
Second Session 4th 35 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 19.711s (+0.977s)
"Today was a positive start to the weekend. We put a lot of effort into our set-up programme, as well as looking at the tyres. It was a smooth day but we still need to do a bit of work on the car balance and, of course, we will be pushing hard to get even more speed from the car. The circuit did not have much grip today which was as expected but it is in a good condition and the facilities are great - everything looks good here. We are here in Japan for our home Grand Prix so we are working hard to have a good weekend. We are very motivated this weekend and I really hope we can get the best out of the car. I am confident about our chances and tomorrow I expect again to be fighting in the top 10 in qualifying."
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11, Chassis TF107/05)
First Session 15th 28 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 20.828s (+1.709s)
Second Session 9th 40 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 19.969s (+1.235s)
"The afternoon session went well after a bit of a problem with oversteer in the morning. The track conditions were tricky because of the low grip but that did gradually improve during the afternoon and the situation was the same for everybody. I must say I am impressed by the circuit here at Fuji Speedway. As a track it is nice and drivable, with an unusual last section. It is a challenge to find the best compromise for the high speeds we need on the start-finish straight, and the grip we need on the infield section. The facilities are obviously very good as well and I particularly enjoy racing in Japan after I spent a season racing Formula Nippon here. I am focused on getting a positive result this weekend and confident we have the opportunity to do that."
Dieter Gass – Chief Engineer Race and Test
"Fuji Speedway is a new track to Formula 1 and we are very pleased to be here, with such fantastic facilities. In terms of the circuit itself, what we found today was pretty much as expected from our simulations. It took a while to rubber in and it was evolving throughout the sessions which made set-up work a little trickier. In general it was a good day for us, we didn’t have any issues on the car and we ran smoothly through our programme. Both drivers suffered from oversteer in the morning but we worked hard to get to grips with it and the rubbering in of the track also helped. It is normal on a new circuit to do a bit more running on the Friday and that’s what we did, trying a few more things on the car to make it handle as we want. That all went smoothly and the team worked hard to complete the full set-up programme. I think we are in quite a good position at the moment but we will have to look at the data to work out exactly where we are because it seems people have been changing their fuel loads more than usual for a Friday."