Panasonic Toyota Racing has taken a single point from its home race after Ralf Schumacher took 8th place around Suzuka. The German started in pole position after a storming performance in qualifying yesterday. He made the most of his start, holding the lead into the first corner and building up a two-second lead on the first lap. But an early safety car period following Montoya's crash did not fit in well with his three-stop strategy and he drifted down the order. Jarno Trulli faced the hardest of tasks from 19th on the grid, so he started from the pit lane to fill up with fuel. Unfortunately he was taken out by Sato early on so he never had the chance to see the race through. Toyota heads to China for the last race of 2005 holding 4th place in the constructors' championship with 82 points.
After yesterday's pole position, Ralf Schumacher stormed into an early lead in the early laps of the Japanese Grand Prix. But the safety car period did his strategy no favours, and he ended up taking a solitary point for 8th place.
"That was a pretty tough end to a weekend that promised so much. I made a great start and was getting away from the rest of the pack when the safety car came out, which was bad news for our three-stop strategy. When it stayed out for so many laps it effectively put an end to our chances. We still raced as hard as we could and fought to grab as much out of the race as possible. Unfortunately in the second half of the race I had quite a heavy vibration and so I had to back off again. Without the safety car our strategy could have put us somewhere between third and fifth place but I guess a point is better than nothing. We'll hope to do better next time."
A TAK FROM BEHIND
Jarno Trulli always faced the most difficult afternoon, starting from the pit lane. But his race was cut short after only ten laps when he was hit from behind by Takuma Sato.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/10B) Race Classification: DNF, Retired on lap 9 Qualifying Classification: 19th No lap time
"Sato tried a manoeuvre that was obviously impossible. He just tried to overtake me but instead he hit me and pushed me off. There was no reason to try that move so I don't know what he was thinking. He's been causing problems for a long time and the FIA has to take action to stop it. The race had been going okay for me until then. We started from the pit lane to try a different strategy but we never had a chance to see it through. I'm obviously disappointed with how the weekend has gone but I knew that these last two races would be hard before I arrived. The new car has been difficult for me all weekend. But we'll carry on and hope to get something more out of Shanghai."
OUT OF THE FRYING JAPAN
There were mixed fortunes for the two Toyota drivers at their home Japanese Grand Prix. But the point for Ralf Schumacher's 8th place comes as some consolation for the team's home fans that packed the stands.
Tsutomu Tomita – Team Principal
"It's disappointing not to have scored more points after being on pole. Ralf made a fine start and he succeeded in building up a lead with two quick laps before the safety car came out. Unfortunately the safety car stayed out far longer than we expected and that effectively ruined our three-stop strategy. Later on he had a problem with tyre vibration which meant he couldn't get back more places, but without the safety car we could have had a podium. Jarno was always going to have a difficult day starting from the pit lane but he was put out of the race by a hopelessly ambitious move on the part of Takuma Sato. A driver should be aggressive but fair. So it was a disappointing end to a good weekend, but that's racing. I'm sorry for all the fans who have come to support us, but unfortunately things didn't work out for us today. We will now hope for a better race in Shanghai next week."