Panasonic Toyota Racing made a solid start to its preparations for the French Grand Prix during today's two sessions of practice. On his return to driving at a grand prix weekend, local favourite Olivier Panis had an enjoyable day, putting in 61 laps and recording the 6th fastest time of the second session. Race drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher both made it through their programmes without problems, ending up with the 8th and 9th fastest times respectively.
NEVERS TRULLI SATISFIED
Jarno Trulli had a solid day of practice for Sunday's race, putting in a total of 25 laps of the track and recording a time of 1m 15.774s, the 8th fastest of the second session.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/02)
First Session Classification: 24th, 1 lap completed No lap time Second Session Classification: 8th, 24 laps completed Lap Time: 1m15.774s (+1.314s)
"That was a normal Friday, with tyre testing and set-up work, but it's still too early to say how we can perform over the weekend. The car seems reasonable in terms of handling, now we can perhaps look at the data to try and find a bit more speed. It was also fun to have Olivier here for this one-off Friday in front of his home crowd."
BACK TO NORMAL
Now fully recovered from his dramatic Friday a fortnight ago, Ralf Schumacher enjoyed a trouble-free day of groundwork for the French Grand Prix – a race he won in 2003 – finishing both sessions in the top ten.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/03) First Session Classification: 9th, 6 laps completed Lap Time: 1m 16.731s (+1.953s) Second Session Classification: 9th, 24 laps completed Lap Time: 1m15.925s (+1.465s)
"I spent the day doing the usual Friday work on set-up. The tyre choice is not yet clear, so we'll have to discuss that tonight, but overall the car felt pretty good so far. The weather can always be a major factor here at Magny-Cours, so we'll have to see what it does over the weekend. But a good solid points finish should be within our grasp again."
FRENCH FANS SEE FAVOURITE
Home hero Olivier Panis drove the third car for today's sessions as a special one-off in place of Ricardo Zonta. He had to work hard, putting in 61 laps over the two hours, but he hopes his experience will help the team this weekend.
Olivier Panis (Car 38, Chassis TF105/05) First Session Classification: 7th, 24 laps completed Lap Time: 1m16.146s (+1.368s) Second Session Classification: 6th, 37 laps completed Lap Time: 1m15.483s (+1.023s)
"I'm very happy to return to the track for Friday testing at the French Grand Prix. I enjoyed myself a lot, having a bit of fun with my former colleagues. I did the job that the team asked me to do without any problems, including the long runs, and it was fantastic out there. The team looks pretty good compared with last year, too. I can feel improvements in the way the team works, with everyone extremely calm and productive, and I'd like to thank them for giving me this chance today. Now I'll go back my job as test driver for the programme I have for the coming months."
PANIS ON IT, TOYOTA CHASING
Panasonic Toyota Racing will look to bring home another strong result in Sunday's French Grand Prix after a solid day of work around Magny-Cours here today.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis "We had no problems on any of the cars, and we have all the information we need to make a decision on the tyres, so that was a good day for the team. It was good to have Olivier with us for the French Grand Prix. I think he enjoyed his day, completing his tyre evaluation programme. He was pretty happy with the handling of the car, as were the two race drivers. Jarno and Ralf both worked through their programmes too. Now we just have to carefully evaluate the data for the tyre choice and aim for another finish on the podium."