Panasonic Toyota Racing ended up on top of the timesheets after the first ever day of F1 action around Turkey's brand new Istanbul Park circuit. On a cloudy day, all three of Toyota's drivers spent their early laps getting used to the new track, which is based in an area of low hills 30km from Istanbul. Then third driver Ricardo Zonta recorded the fastest time of the day as he completed his work on set-up and tyre choice for the weekend. Race drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher also enjoyed their days, finishing the second session with the 9th and 16th fastest times. Now the team will analyse all the data in preparation for tomorrow's qualifying and Sunday's inaugural Turkish Grand Prix.
NEW GRID ON THE BLOCK
Jarno Trulli had his first experience of the Istanbul Park track, recording the 9th fastest time of the second session.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/07)
First Session Classification: 13th, 11 laps completed Lap Time: 1m30.785s (+2.903s) Second Session Classification: 9th, 22 laps completed Lap Time: 1m27.964s (+2.381s)
"This is an interesting circuit, and very different from what we usually see. There are some ups and downs and turn 8 is a challenging corner. We made it through the two sessions without problems so that was a decent day of practice for us. I lost a bit of ground in the morning and early in the afternoon because I was struggling to get the tyres working properly. But as soon as we changed them the balance came in and I was able to do a more consistent long run."
Ralf Schumacher was an impressed debutant at the Istanbul Park, which features more hills than the average F1 track.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/05) First Session Classification: 12th, 12 laps completed Lap Time: 1m30.563s (+2.681s) Second Session Classification: 16th, 22 laps completed Lap Time: 1m28.641s (+3.058s)
"The Istanbul Park is a challenging track, the layout is unusual and something which we haven't seen in a long time in F1. It's a very smooth circuit with very few bumps and lots of run-off areas so it's very safe. For set-up we need to compromise for the low speed corners while maintaining speed along the straight. Tyre choice will be crucial here but the car feels okay and Ricardo's lap time shows that we should be competitive here and aim for another strong result."
Ricardo Zonta topped the timesheets on the first ever day of F1 action at the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix weekend.
Ricardo Zonta (Car 38, Chassis TF105/02) First Session Classification: 4th, 25 laps completed Lap Time: 1m28.810s (+0.928s) Second Session Classification: 1st, 32 laps completed Lap Time: 1m25.583s (Fastest)
"The Istanbul Park is an enjoyable circuit to drive and that was a good day. It's an anti-clockwise circuit, but it doesn't feel too hard on the neck because the toughest left-handers are downhill, unlike Interlagos. There was a lot of traffic and yellow flags but I eventually found a clear lap at the end of the session. The lap time is a lot quicker than we expected because the track surface is better. Of course the grip improved throughout the day, and we also saw some tyre graining, but we have plenty of data to look at tonight. It's looking good so far."
Panasonic Toyota Racing spent the day trying to gain as much track information as possible for Saturday and Sunday.
Dieter Gass – Chief Race Engineer
"It's great to have Ricardo back on top of the timesheets. We were a bit surprised by the lap because it was not on a brand new tyre, so that was very good. It was a difficult day today to get everything sorted for tyre choice, because there was a lot of traffic, so we really have to analyse the data to understand the behaviour. There's still some work to do on the car balance, but that was a trouble-free day and our performance looks promising."