Following closely behind the team's best qualifying performance of the season from Mika Salo on Saturday, the British Grand Prix itself saw more misfortune for Panasonic Toyota Racing.
The 10th round of the Formula 1 World Championship began unfortunately for the team on Friday when lead driver Mika Salo was sidelined with sickness due to a stomach infection and rain washed out almost the entire day's practice.
The team's fortunes improved on Saturday, culminating in Salo's fine qualifying effort to put a TF102 chassis on the fourth row of the grid, in eighth place. But good luck deserted the team again on race day when both cars retired before quarter distance.
For Allan McNish it was especially tough, as it was his first ever start in his home Grand Prix?
"Basically the lights went green, there was a problem with the clutch and the engine stalled," McNish explained. "It was not the same problem we had in Imola. We were lucky not to be hit. We got pushed back to the garage but we were unable to rectify the problem in time. Needless to say I am extremely disappointed, not only for myself and the team but for the fans supporting me here at Silverstone. The car felt pretty good in warm-up this morning and it has been a bit of a frustrating weekend all round with the rain on Friday and having a bit of traffic during qualifying Saturday, and now this."
Salo dropped a place from his fine qualifying effort on the first lap and a transmission problem ultimately saw him retire.
"I didn't get such a good start but things seemed okay. Then the rain started and our lack of downforce really showed and we struggled with little grip," Salo said. "I had a small spin and at the end there was a problem with the transmission. Something broke in the drive train and I stopped. It was very disappointing after such a good qualifying session yesterday."
Panasonic Toyota Racing president Ove Andersson summarised the British Grand Prix as a weekend to forget. "But again," he said, "there is plenty to learn from. I was particularly encouraged by yesterday's qualifying, but unfortunately events in the race were not so positive. Our car is clearly not as good in the wet as in the dry and we have to work on this."
The race produced an entertaining battle between Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher in the early stages, but it was ultimately the Scuderia Marlboro Ferrari drivers who scored a 1-2 finish, this time with Schumacher first past the chequered flag. Montoya finished third with Lucky Strike British American Racing Honda drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis fourth and fifth respectively. Nick Heidfeld completed the championship point scorers in his Sauber Petronas.
The next race is at Magny Cours, France, in a fortnight. Heading to it, Schumacher Sr enjoys a 54-point lead at the head of the championship table and team mate Barrichello is now in second place, one point ahead of Montoya and two clear of Ralf Schumacher, who was delayed today by a fuel rig problem.
For Panasonic Toyota Racing, however, Monza is the next destination. A four-day test begins on Tuesday at the Italian track. Allan McNish will drive for the first two days with Mika Salo completing the test on Thursday and Friday.
British Grand Prix - Race Results
Pos. Driver Team Time
1 M Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro 1:31.45.015
2 Barrichello Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro +14.578
3 Montoya BMW WilliamsF1 Team +31.661
4 Villeneuve Lucky Strike BAR Honda +1 lap
5 Panis Lucky Strike BAR Honda +1 lap
6 Heidfeld Sauber Petronas +1 lap
7 Fisichella DHL Jordan Honda +1 lap
8 R Schumacher BMW WilliamsF1 Team +1 lap
9 Massa Sauber Petronas +1 lap
10 Coulthard West McLaren Mercedes +2 laps
11 De La Rosa Jaguar Racing +2 laps
12 Button Mild Seven Renault F1 Team +6 laps
R Sato DHL Jordan Honda Retired
R Raikkonen West McLaren Mercedes Retired
R Trulli Mild Seven Renault F1 Team Retired
R Bernoldi Orange Arrows Retired
R Irvine Jaguar Racing Retired
R Frentzen Orange Arrows Retired
R Salo Panasonic Toyota Racing Retired
R Webber KL Minardi Asiatech Retired
R McNish Panasonic Toyota Racing Retired