An excellent start to the European Grand Prix weekend was ruined by the weather this afternoon as Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta took to the track for their qualifying runs with heavy rain pouring on to the Nürburgring. Having topped free practice this morning, Frenchman Panis was forced to contend with the track at its wettest and managed to complete his lap in 17th position. Da Matta started his out-lap on slick tyres hopeful of a semi-dry run, but was forced to return to the pits as his slick tyres could not handle the ever-worsening track conditions.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 17th
Lap Time: 1m57.327s, +27.338s from pole
Starting position: 15th
"We were not very lucky this afternoon with the wet weather, but there is absolutely nothing we can do about that. It was too wet to set any sort of decent time, so I just concentrated on getting the car back to Parc Fermé safely. I want to remain optimistic though. We were very competitive this morning and I am extremely happy with the job everybody did this morning to get us in P1. Hopefully we will be able to recreate that sort of speed in tomorrow's sessions, especially in front of our employees, who are watching from the grandstands this weekend."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 19th
No qualifying time recorded - aborted run due to wet weather Starting Position: 13th "We thought that we could get a time done in the dry conditions, so we opted for slick tyres for my run. The initial part of the track was actually quite dry but then I suddenly picked up a part of the track that was really wet and it was impossible to drive, so we decided it was safer to abort the lap. This morning was quite a competitive session and the car felt pretty good apart from a bit of understeer. I reacquainted myself with the Nürburgring quickly and I think that was reflected in my 9th position."
Ange Pasquali - Team Manager
"The fact that we had to run both cars in the wet conditions in qualifying is obviously very disappointing. We carried out such good work in free practice this morning, coming top of the timesheets, that it is extremely frustrating for the drivers and the team to have to endure the rain, but that is out of our hands. The weekend has only just started and we showed that we can be in a good shape around here. Let's see what tomorrow brings."
Weather: Dry and cloudy to start with, heavy rain towards the end of the session.
T-Car: TF103/04 set up for Olivier Panis
Free Practice Review: Panasonic Toyota Racing enjoyed a highly successful one-hour practice this morning, with Panis setting the quickest time (1m31.197s) after 22 laps of the Nürburgring. Cristiano da Matta, driving the new track layout for the first time, was 9th (1m32.492s), completing 26 laps.