A double top-ten qualifying result was the reward for a competitive start to the European Grand Prix weekend for Panasonic Toyota Racing at the Nürburgring today with Olivier Panis in 7th and Cristiano da Matta in 10th. Panis was ultimately pleased with his lap, claiming his 6th top-ten grid slot of the season so far. On his first race weekend at the revised 5.141km Nürburgring, Da Matta was pleased to secure his third consecutive top ten starting position of 2003 after 10th in Monaco and 9th in Canada.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 7th
Lap Time: 1m32.350s +0.827s from pole
Starting position: 17th
"I am really quite happy with my lap. We have been very competitive all weekend and I think that everybody has worked tremendously hard to get the cars to go well around the Nürburgring this weekend. We had a good car from the first session yesterday, so it was a shame the rain prevented us from qualifying higher up on Friday afternoon. Going out so early on in the today's session was a bit of a drawback, because I am sure the track improved as more cars went out, however having two cars in the top ten again is a positive result for the whole team. We are improving all the time and I reckon we are in good shape for a points finish in tomorrow's race."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 10th
Lap Time: 1m32.949s +1.426s from pole
Starting Position: 19th
"I am pleased with the lap today and with our performance over this weekend. We know we have a car that works well around here, as we proved in the practice sessions, and we have actually exceeded our expectations a little bit. We have operated well as a team and I am sure we can achieve a good result tomorrow. Both cars have been on the pace since the first session on Friday and the Michelin tyres are working very well, which will be an advantage for us in the race. We have to continue in this way for the rest of the season and keep making this kind of progress."
Keizo Takahashi - General Manager Car Design and Development "We are very happy with today's result. We achieved our objective by getting both Olivier and Cristiano in the top ten. After the unfortunate qualifying session yesterday in the rain, we did not lose faith in our abilities for today's qualifying session and we have performed very strongly all weekend. I am especially happy for all our employees in the grandstands who got to see such a positive result today. I think this is great motivation for everyone in the team at our home grand prix and we can be quietly confident for more championship points in the race."
Weather: Dry with some sunny spells but cloudy.
T-Car: TF103/04 set up for Olivier Panis.
Free Practice Review: Panasonic Toyota Racing enjoyed a highly successful one-hour Friday practice, 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. 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 (1m31.181s). Da Matta was 7th quickest over the two sessions (1m32.057s).