Panasonic Toyota Racing's European Grand Prix ended in bitter disappointment with a double retirement from the 60-lap race. Olivier Panis' race ended on lap 37 after his brakes locked causing his TF103 to spin and stall. Cristiano da Matta retired with four laps of the race remaining after a sudden drop in oil pressure caused his engine to fail. Race results aside, the team had an encouraging weekend, topping the free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday and qualifying both TF103s in the top 10 for the second consecutive race.
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/04
Classification: DNF +7 laps (from race winner)
Starting Position: 10th
"Not a good afternoon for us unfortunately. I made a reasonable start, retaining my tenth place and everything ran smoothly until about a third of the way through the race, when my front end plate was damaged. This meant an unscheduled pit stop to change the nose, but the guys did an outstanding job to get me back out quickly. In the end, my retirement from the race was down to an engine failure, most likely to be the result of an oil leak, or something similar. We'll have to look closely into this to find the exact cause."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Classification: DNF +23 laps (from race winner)
Starting Position: 7th
"I was in eighth place by lap ten and gaining on Alonso, but then the front brakes locked up, which made it impossible to turn, causing the car to spin. Luckily, I kept the engine going, but it happened again later in the race and on this occasion the engine stalled and I was unable to continue. We don't yet know what the reason was. It goes without saying that I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of today's race. I was so sure we could pick up a good points finish after such competitiveness in practice and second qualifying. The team has done a good job and I am very positive about the next race in Magny-Cours - my home grand prix."
Ove Andersson - Team Principal
"Words cannot explain how upsetting this result is for the whole team after the strong showing we achieved on Friday and Saturday. The reason for Cristiano's retirement was quite clearly an engine failure, but the exact problem will have to be investigated. Olivier was suffering from intermittent brake locking, which made his car difficult to control, ultimately resulting in the spin that put him out of the race. But, again, we do not know the precise cause of this. We now travel the short distance back to the factory in Cologne, where we will study the race data in detail to determine exactly what went wrong. I absolutely refuse to be downbeat. The team and drivers have done an impressive job this weekend and we must simply learn from the race and look ahead with optimism to next weekend's French Grand Prix."
Weather: Dry, warm and sunny with some cloud.
T-Car: TF103/04 set up for Olivier Panis.
Review: The team enjoyed a highly successful Friday practice, with Panis setting the quickest time after 22 laps. Da Matta was 9th, completing 26 laps. Rain ruined first qualifying for both drivers with Panis in 17th and Da Matta aborting his run due to the track conditions. Saturday morning saw a resurgence to form with Panis setting the fastest time in the morning sessions. Da Matta was 7th quickest over the two sessions. This competitiveness continued into the grid-determining qualifying session, where Panis clocked the 7th fastest time and Da Matta put his TF103 tenth on the grid - the team's second double top ten qualifying of the year.