The Panasonic Toyota Racing team added yet another top ten qualifying result to its tally in Magny-Cours today, as French driver Olivier Panis claimed tenth place on the grid for his home race. Team-mate Cristiano da Matta was just three places back and will start tomorrow's French Grand Prix from 13th.
Olivier Panis – Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 10th
Lap Time: 1m16.345s, +1.326s from pole
Starting position: 17th
"I'm happy because starting from the top ten again is a very positive result for the team, especially at a difficult track like Magny-Cours. I expected a little bit better, but the track temperature changed a lot since warm-up and even during the session, which made grip levels lower. I think everybody has done a good job and we have made continuous improvements to the car over the weekend. We should be optimistic - I am in the top ten for the third race in a row and now we have to turn that into a good race finish tomorrow in the points."
Cristiano da Matta – Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 13th
Lap Time: 1m17.068s, +2.049s from pole
Starting Position: 12th
"We have taken a slightly different strategy to usual, with more emphasis on tomorrow's race, rather than this afternoon's qualifying session. With this in mind, I am quite pleased with my lap. I don't think I could have got much more out of the car, although I could have gained some time in the last chicane, maybe one or two-tenths. I thought a top 12 would have been possible, and we are not far from that in 13th and from there it should be a good race."
Keizo Takahashi – General Manager, Car Design and Development "Although Olivier achieved the team's fourth top ten qualifying result in a row, reaching our qualifying objective, I am a little disappointed because we were aiming for slightly higher positions. Both drivers did a good job, but the track had less grip than we had anticipated. Tomorrow, we are opting for different strategies for Olivier and Cristiano and we will again be fighting for championship points. From tenth and thirteenth, I believe we are well-placed to do just that."
Weather: Cloudy but dry, cooling during the session
T-Car: TF103/04 set up for Olivier Panis. Spare Chassis: TF103/02.
Friday practice (wet track)
Panis P8, 1m28.773s, 20 laps
Da Matta P16, 1m30.791s, 25 laps
Friday Qualifying (wet-drying track)
Panis, P4, 1m24.175s (+3.358s)
Da Matta, P10, 1m26.975s (+6.158s)
Saturday practice 1 (dry track)
Da Matta, P8, 1m17.118s, 25 laps
Panis, P10, 1m17.186s, 18 laps
Saturday practice 2 (dry track)
Panis, P8, 1m16.133s, 17 laps
Da Matta, P13, 1m17.690s, 22 laps