The Panasonic Toyota Racing team did not start today's US Grand Prix, returning to the pit lane after the formation lap as a precaution following the accidents suffered by Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta in Friday's practice session.
The decision was taken on the clear advice of the team's tyre partner, Michelin. After exhaustive testing of the two tyre-related issues which were the cause of Friday's accidents, the tyre company could not guarantee that such incidents would not reoccur in race conditions with this track configuration, particularly at turn 13.
Safety is always the first concern of any race team and this decision was taken because to race in such circumstances would have placed the team's drivers Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta under unnecessary risk. This was a decision shared by all seven teams running on Michelin tyres.
Panasonic Toyota Racing Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita said: "First we would like to apologise to all the race fans and sponsors watching, both here and around the world. We are sorry to have to take this decision, particularly in the light of Jarno Trulli's pole position here yesterday. But the safety of our drivers always has to come first. After a detailed explanation of the tyre problems encountered this weekend we could not legitimately send our drivers out for a race distance. Therefore we did not race either car this afternoon. We look forward to returning to the track at the French Grand Prix in a fortnight."