Panasonic Toyota Racing managed to get a car to the finish of its first 'home' Grand Prix at Nürburgring but Allan McNish's European Grand Prix only resulted in 14th place after a difficult race, while Mika Salo was forced to retire with a mechanical problem.
"It was a tough race, " McNish explained. "My left arm is dead. The seat was pressing into the muscle and for the last 20 laps it was pretty excruciating to negotiate right-handers. We will have to do something because it was a new seat for this race. The car was pretty good at the start but then I had a problem at the first pit stop with the left front wheel. That set us back a bit.
"There weren't really that many good battles out there. As soon as you get the blue lights you have to let people lapping go past, which spoiled a couple of them. I went for a two-stop race but I think that a one-stop strategy was maybe the better move."
The Scot needed to spend some time with the team physiotherapist immediately afterwards, to get some feeling back into his shoulder.
Salo did not necessarily agree with McNish's feelings on strategy, however. The Finn opted for a one-stop strategy but that caused a new set of problems.
"We agreed to take a chance on a one-stop race but from very early the tyres we chose were suffering from the heavier fuel load," Mika said. "That caused handling problems, which is why I went off a couple of times at the first corner. I had to pit earlier than scheduled and for that reason I was forced to stop again for tyres later on. Ultimately, I retired due to what looks like a gearbox-related problem but we will have to investigate further."
Panasonic Toyota Racing president Ove Andersson said in summary: "I have mixed feelings about the race. I was pleased that Allan got home after our recent non-finishes, but having said that, I thought we might have been stronger in the race after our promising qualifying performance. We will have to look ahead to our test at Paul Ricard next week in order to sort out the problems that we experienced today."
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro once more scored maximum points, the third time this season that the team has enjoyed a 1-2 success. Rubens Barrichello led at the end of the opening lap and finished the race just 0.29s ahead of reigning world champion Michael Schumacher. Unlike Austria three races ago, there were no team orders issued and Schumacher explained that the championship position is more comfortable now than it was then.
Kimi Raikkonen achieved his third points finish of the season with third place for West McLaren Mercedes, ahead of Ralf Schumacher in the only surviving BMW-Williams. Team mate Juan Pablo Montoya and McLaren's David Coulthard were eliminated in a collision at Turn 1. Jenson Button was fifth for Renault, with young Brazilian Felipe Massa scoring another point for Sauber.
As the championship heads for Silverstone, home to the British teams of course, Michael Schumacher enjoys a 46-point lead over brother Ralf at the head of the championship table. In the constructors championship, Ferrari leads Williams-BMW by 45 points. Panasonic Toyota Racing remains in ninth place with Salo's sixth places in Australia and Brazil.
European Grand Prix - Race Results
Pos. Driver Team Time
1 Barrichello Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro 1.35.07.426
2 M Schumacher Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro +0.294
3 Raikkonen West McLaren Mercedes +46.435
4 R Schumacher BMW WilliamsF1 Team +1.06.963
5 Button Mild Seven Renault F1 Team +1.16.943
6 Massa Sauber Petronas +1 lap
7 Heidfeld Sauber Petronas +1 lap
8 Trulli Mild Seven Renault F1 Team +1 lap
9 Panis Lucky Strike BAR Honda +1 lap
10 De La Rosa Jaguar Racing +1 lap
11 Bernoldi Orange Arrows +1 lap
12 Villeneuve Lucky Strike BAR Honda +1 lap
13 Frentzen Orange Arrows +1 lap
14 McNish Panasonic Toyota Racing +1 lap
15 Webber KL Minardi Asiatech +2 laps
16 Sato DHL Jordan Honda +2 laps
R Salo Panasonic Toyota Racing Retired
R Yoong KL Minardi Asiatech Retired
R Irvine Jaguar Racing Retired
R Montoya BMW WilliamsF1 Team Retired
R Coulthard West McLaren Mercedes Retired
R Fisichella DHL Jordan Honda Retired