With top eight results in the Canadian, French and British Grands Prix, Panasonic Toyota Racing has scored four points over the last four race weekends. The team intends to build upon the seven points already won this year, setting its sights on a sixth consecutive top ten grid slot and the first two-car points finish of the season at the German Grand Prix - round 12 of this season's championship.
Team Review: With no testing in the period since the Silverstone race, Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta have used the opportunity to recharge their batteries ahead of the German GP. Race preparations took place a few weeks' ago at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, where the team successfully tested a new specification RVX-03 engine, as well as new aero components, specifically designed for increased performance at maximum downforce circuits like Hockenheim.
The Weekend Ahead: The 2003 race will be the 27th German GP to be held at Hockenheim, having been previously staged for 23 races by the Nürburgring. Originally built in 1930's as a test facility, the Hockenheimring had to wait until 1970 before being instated as an F1 race venue. The track was drastically revised for last year's event, reduced in length from 6.825km to 4.574km and swapping ultra fast straights with a tighter, twistier layout. In the last ten years, no driver has won the German Grand Prix two years in a row.
Ove Andersson, Team Principal
"Everyone in Cologne was given a real boost from seeing our cars in front at the British Grand Prix two weeks' ago and from the two hard-earned and well-deserved championship points we claimed. There are just seven points separating Panasonic Toyota Racing from fifth place in the constructors' championship, so with only five races left of the season, we have to put in the best efforts to improve our position. We have an engine upgrade and new aerodynamic parts for the German GP and we are confident of continuing the progress we have displayed in the past races."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20
"I drove on the new Hockenheim track for the first time last season. I thought it was quite good, although it had a completely different feel compared to the previous layout – it is much wider and slower. The circuit's width can lead to some overtaking possibilities, but it is a maximum downforce track, so we need to find a good mechanical and aerodynamic set-up to be quick. We are introducing some new aero parts this weekend to gain more downforce, and we have a new specification engine, which felt very good in testing. Consequently, I am hopeful that we can maintain our recent good form and get some more points."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21
"After briefly leading the race and ultimately picking up two more championship points in Silverstone two weeks' ago, the whole team is in upbeat mood at the moment. I raced on the old Hockenheimring in 1996, but the circuit has totally changed and will require a very different style of driving, so it will be back to the usual story for me this weekend, with my priority being to learn the track on Friday morning. Nevertheless, I have become quite used to learning new tracks quickly and we have new parts on the car for this race, so I remain optimistic about our chances of getting another good result."
2002 Flashback: Working on different programmes, the TF102s were 9th and 18th on Friday practice at the new-look Hockenheim track last season. The team was unable to adapt the car's setup to changing track conditions during qualifying and lined up just 17th (car 25) and 19th (car 24) on the grid. Car 25 retired on lap 23 with a hydraulics problem, whilst car 24 completed the 67-lap race in 9th position.