First qualifying produced a promising start to the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team at Interlagos today. Inclement weather conditions restricted track time for all teams in morning free practice with Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta managing just 11 laps between them in the rain-soaked session. Panis was last of the 20 cars to take to the track for his qualifying run and put his TF103 in 6th place. Da Matta completed his sole flying lap earlier in the session and took 11th position, but both drivers believe there is room for improvement.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 6th
Lap Time: 1m25.614s, +2.503s from pole
Starting position: 20th
"I think sixth place in qualifying is a good result for us considering the difficult weather conditions today. The track was a little bit quicker as it dried out towards the end of the session, but I do think we have a car that can qualify better. The balance of the car is quite good, but we had a problem with the traction control during the session and we need to work a bit on the settings. Once we sort this out, I think we are going to be really competitive, but I hope it stays dry tomorrow."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02
Session Classification: 11th
Lap Time: 1m26.554s, +3.443s from pole
Starting Position: 15th
"I feel a little disappointed with the qualifying result. I only had two timed laps on the track this morning and it has been nine years since I last raced here, so it is almost like a new track for me. We could have been in much better shape had the weather not affected free practice this morning. The track conditions were far from ideal and nobody really drives the same race track, because it is drying out all the time. I just hope it is totally dry tomorrow morning for free practice, so I can get lots of laps done and learn the track one hundred percent."
Gustav Brunner - Chief Designer
"Well, I think that the whole Panasonic Toyota Racing team should be very happy with these positions, 6th and 11th. We had no opportunity this morning to set the car up to fit these extremely wet conditions, so the boys did well. I would say the results were also very good, considering they were really safety runs. I want to pass on my congratulations to Mark Webber and Jaguar for a very impressive performance today."
Weather: Heavy rain during free practice, easing but leaving track wet.
Temperatures: Air 21-22, Track 21-22, Average humidity 90%.
T-Car: TF103/01 set up for Cristiano da Matta.
Free Practice Review: Heavy rain in the morning resulted in an unproductive free practice session. After just 5 laps in the one-hour session, Olivier Panis was classified in 7th with a best time of 1m31.518s. Cristiano da Matta, taking part in his debut home grand prix, completed 6 laps setting a fastest time of 1m31.548s, placing him 8th.