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Panasonic Toyota Racing: European Grand Prix

Top ten return for home GP

Motorsport
Panasonic Toyota Racing: European Grand Prix
Panasonic Toyota Racing: European Grand Prix
The European Grand Prix at Nürburgring, round 9 of the Formula 1 World Championship, is almost a home race for the 550 plus employees who spearhead the company's racing programme from its Cologne base.

The team has the added benefit of support from 200 employees, all cheering on drivers Mika Salo and Allan McNish from the grandstand at the revamped Nürburgring's final corner.

The drivers have responded by giving Panasonic Toyota Racing its second most impressive qualifying performance of the season, an effort only surpassed when both cars made it into the top 10 at Monte Carlo.

Salo put his TF102 into the top 10 for the fourth time this year, the 35-year-old Finn just 1.48s away from Juan Pablo Montoya's pole position, despite encountering a lot of traffic and also experiencing a strange feeling through the steering on a couple of his qualifying runs.

"I was a bit unfortunate," Salo said. "I think it might even have been possible to qualify a couple of places further up, but in the final analysis I am satisfied with the car's balance and my position. We are back to business now compared to Canada, where we qualified poorly."

Team mate McNish, who was not happy with the feel of his car after Friday's free practice, has also done a good job to line up just three places adrift of his team leader.

"The car felt a lot better than yesterday," he said. "I think the circuit grip level has come up a lot, which has helped us, but there's still a small issue with electronics, which we need to sort out."

Panasonic Toyota Racing team manager Ange Pasquali was pleased with the performance. "The fact that we have qualified in the top 10 for the fifth time shows the consistency of the work we are doing," he said. "We went through a sensible qualifying programme and have improved and exploited what we learned yesterday and in the second session this morning. Now we hope to make a good start to the race and be reliable."

At the front of the grid the BMW Williams F1 Team monopolised proceedings as Montoya secured his third successive pole position, just 0.009s ahead of team mate Ralf Schumacher.

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will occupy row two, with Michael Schumacher ahead of Rubens Barrichello, while West McLaren Mercedes lines up on row three, with David Coulthard marginally faster than Kimi Raikkonen.

European Grand Prix - Qualifying Results
Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Montoya BMW WilliamsF1 Team 1.29.906
2 R Schumacher BMW WilliamsF1 Team 1.29.915
3 M Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro 1.39.035
4 Barrichello Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro 1.30.387
5 Coulthard West McLaren Mercedes 1.30.550
6 Raikkonen West McLaren Mercedes 1.30.591
7 Trulli Mild Seven Renault F1 Team 1.30.927
8 Button Mild Seven Renault F1 Team 1.31.136
9 Heidfeld Sauber Petronas 1.31.211
10 Salo Panasonic Toyota Racing 1.31.389
11 Massa Sauber Petronas 1.31.733
12 Panis Lucky Strike BAR Honda 1.31.906
13 McNish Panasonic Toyota Racing 1.31.941
14 Sato DHL Jordan Honda 1.31.999
15 Frentzen Orange Arrows 1.32.144
16 De La Rosa Jaguar Racing 1.32.281
17 Irvine Jaguar Racing 1.32.510
18 Fisichella DHL Jordan Honda 1.32.591
19 Villeneuve Lucky Strike BAR Honda 1.32.968
20 Webber KL Minardi Asiatech 1.32.996
21 Bernoldi Orange Arrows 1.33.360
22 Yoong KL Minardi Asiatech 1.34.251