What are your thoughts on this year's Australian Grand Prix?
It is always nice to go to the first race after a long break, so that makes the Australian Grand Prix a special event. Obviously it is a brand new start to a brand new season so it will be interesting to see how everyone performs. The whole event has a great atmosphere, too. The drivers usually arrive early to get used to the time difference and Melbourne is a good place for training outdoors.
What do you think of the Albert Park circuit itself?
I enjoy the driving at the circuit, especially the quick chicane at Turns 11 and 12. It is a street circuit, though, so the track is usually quite dirty. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on the new tyres, which have been changed this year to comply with the longer running required by the 2005 rules. It will certainly make things more difficult for the drivers.
What are your hopes for the race weekend?
At Panasonic Toyota Racing we have done a lot of mileage during testing over the winter and I feel I am ready. The car looks reliable and we seem to be heading in the right direction. The whole team will be pushing as hard as it can and if we are lucky we can score some points in Melbourne this weekend.
Ralf Schumacher – Race Driver Car 17
Ralf, what are your impressions heading into the first race of your first season with Toyota?
Certainly the start of the season is always exciting because it's the first time that teams find out where they really stand. There are a lot of unknowns, and there's always the question of whether or not you make it through the weekend without too many technical problems. I also enjoy visiting the country itself, so it all combines to make the Australian Grand Prix a great event. The fact that I am making my debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing only serves to make it more special.
Being a street circuit, the Albert Park track is often quite dirty. How much of an impact do you think that could have on the new cars and the new tyres?
From what we have seen so far in testing, warming up the tyres has been a little bit difficult, so I am sure it will be an interesting factor when we come to Melbourne. It is not usually very warm during the race weekend and it is a dirty track, so it could be really difficult to find the grip, especially in the first lap of qualifying.
How have your preparations gone over the winter and what are Panasonic Toyota Racing's realistic expectations for Melbourne?
Here at Toyota we have been testing a lot and very hard, so I think we are well prepared for the first race. At the moment we have to expect a good, solid finish in the points. That is what we must aim for, but we will have to wait and see where we line up against the other teams. Until we hit the track, no team really knows their comparative competitiveness.
More Australian GP preview information is available on the Panasonic Toyota Racing media website, www.toyota-f1-media.com, as well as other interesting features and information.
En Route to Melbourne with Panasonic Toyota Racing Panasonic Toyota Racing's General Manager F1 Operations, Richard Cregan, explains how the work of the mechanics at the race track can give Toyota a competitive advantage before the TF105 has even turned a wheel at Albert Park.
Marmorini on Melbourne
"The opening race of the season is always a lottery, to be honest, but I feel that we have done all we can as a team to put ourselves in the best shape possible."
Gascoyne's Australian Analysis
"The aero improvements will not stop here. Our approach is far more aggressive than it ever has been and I think it has to be in order to propel Toyota up the grid during 2005."
Jarno Trulli: Virtual Driver
"There are 103 different measurements - width of the nose, head, hands, feet, circumference of the head, and so on - which are fed into the computer to create a 'mannequin': what you might call a 'virtual Trulli'. This can be positioned in a virtual cockpit."
To access these features please go to the Panasonic Toyota Racing media website at: www.toyota-f1-media.com