Panasonic Toyota Racing is understandably still jubilant following its tremendous 12-point haul at the Malaysian Grand Prix, which saw the team take to the podium for the first time in its short history. The team now turns its attention to the third round of the season in Bahrain, where it hopes to consolidate its position at the dizzy heights of second in the constructors' championship.
Fresh from firmly planting Toyota on the second step of the Sepang podium and a two-day test in Paul Ricard last week, Jarno Trulli is hoping that the TF105 performs as competitively around the Bahrain International Circuit. Jarno currently occupies equal third place in the drivers' championship, courtesy of his well-earned eight points in Malaysia.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "Following the tremendous success we achieved in Malaysia two weeks ago, we head to Bahrain with considerably raised expectations. It is hard to know whether we will be able to replicate our competitiveness from Sepang in Bahrain, but we will certainly try our best. Bahrain as a venue is incredible – the facilities are state-of-the-art, much like Malaysia and China. The circuit itself is quite nice, but is tough on the brakes. I had a good result in last year's debut Bahrain GP, finishing fourth, and our TF105 performed so well in Malaysia, I can't help but to be excited about this weekend's race. I lie third in the drivers' championship and Toyota is second in the constructors', so let's see if we can consolidate these positions with some more points."
ROUND OF GULF
Ralf Schumacher was left bittersweet after Malaysia. On the one hand he was encouraged by the performance of the car, but on the other he was prevented from joining his Italian team-mate on the podium after an eventful race. Ralf's fine fifth placed drive in Sepang put four points into his account and propelled him to joint eighth in the drivers' standings.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "I flew back to Europe after Australia to conduct a short test at Jerez working especially towards the Bahrain Grand Prix. We found a good set-up and some competitive Michelin tyres for the weekend. This combined with the speed and performance of the TF105s in Malaysia at the last race leaves me encouraged for Bahrain. It was fantastic to see a Toyota on the podium in Malaysia after an excellent weekend for the whole team. I was also pleased with my fifth place considering all the dramas I encountered over the weekend. In fact, such was the speed of the TF105 that without my problems, I would have had the pace to join Jarno on the podium. Of course it is natural that we have our sights set a bit higher after such a result and I think the car could be well suited to the Bahrain International Circuit. As a minimum, I think we should be looking to add more points in Sakhir this weekend to our already impressive tally of twelve."
WIRED FOR SAND
Being based with a unique desert backdrop, sand is a frequent intruder onto the Bahrain circuit over race weekend, which poses an entirely new obstacle for teams to overcome.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis: "The most noticeable thing about the Bahrain International Circuit is its geographical location, being located firmly in the midst of the desert. That fact alone adds a unique element to the race weekend, as sand is regularly blown on to the race track. Recalling last year's event, we experienced a rather sizeable sandstorm early on Sunday morning, which made the track extremely dusty for the race. We were able to confound our doubters with a highly competitive performance in Malaysia to score Toyota's first podium position. We have to look to try and enjoy a similar level of competitiveness in Bahrain this week and get at least both Ralf and Jarno in the points and secure our second place in the constructors' championship."