A difficult afternoon's work at the European Grand Prix saw Panasonic Toyota Racing's Jarno Trulli pick up a point for 8th place. Trulli made a strong start to be up to third early on but a drive through penalty earned for a starting grid infringement by the team dropped him down the order. A gritty drive from there ensured that the Italian secured another points finish. Ralf Schumacher had an even harder race after he became involved in a first corner clash and had to pit for a new nose. He was battling up through the field when he spun shortly after half distance. After a successful evening of haute cuisine by German chef Johann Lafer on Saturday this result was slightly harder to swallow but it keeps Toyota in 3rd place in the constructors' championship on 44 points.
Jarno Trulli battled all day to bring his car home in 8th place finish, enough to keep him in the top three of the drivers' championship on 27 points. It could have been more but for an early drive through penalty for an infringement on the grid that dropped him down the order.
"After an afternoon like that, a point is certainly better than nothing, but it could have been much more. Unfortunately we had a problem firing up the engine on the grid and because of those few seconds we earned a drive through penalty that completely spoiled my chances. I pitted earlier than we intended because I was stuck in traffic and after that my race was fairly anonymous because it is nearly impossible to overtake here. But I kept pushing, pushing and pushing and it paid off when Raikkonen had his problem at the very end. It's a pity because otherwise after such a good qualifying and start we would certainly have made the podium and I could even have won. Still, given everything that happened I'll settle for 8th place."
HOME IS WHERE THE START HITS
Ralf Schumacher had the most difficult of starts to his home grand prix, losing his nose after a first corner collision. The resulting pit stop sent him to the back of the field. He then pushed up the field, but he spun out on lap 33.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/03) Race Classification: Retired on lap 33 Qualifying Classification: 8th
Time: 1m31.392s (+1.311s)
"This was a very difficult day for me. I made a reasonably good start but as I went into turn one I was very close to Alonso when all of a sudden he came to an almost complete stop. Because I was so close behind him, I couldn't see what was happening in front so I became involved in the accident. It's a pity, but I really couldn't do anything about it. That meant I had to pit to replace my nose, leaving me over a minute adrift. From there the afternoon was always going to be difficult but I pushed as hard as I could, gaining a few places. Then I was close behind Sato when I lost grip at the front, understeered straight on, hit the kerb and that was it. We'll hope for a better weekend next time."
A HARD DAY'S FIGHT
Panasonic Toyota Racing had a difficult home race as both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were forced into unscheduled visits to the pits in the early laps. After a start like that, Jarno's point was some consolation.
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"This was obviously a disappointing race result for us but Jarno did well to bring the car home for a point – even if it was helped by a competitor's troubles. We knew we were in for a tough afternoon right from the beginning. Our problems started on the grid when Jarno's engine didn't start and we couldn't get the spare starter quick enough to get off the grid in time. That's why we got the drive through penalty which left him too far behind to manage anything higher than 8th place. Then Ralf was involved in an accident at the first corner. From then on he kept pushing but he spun off trying to catch Sato. Still, this is a long season and we will have good results on some days and less good on others. This result will spur us on even more for the next two races in Canada and the USA."