The Panasonic Toyota Racing team faced a frustrating qualifying session in Suzuka today. Mika Salo qualified for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix in 13th place, whilst Allan McNish was unhurt after a collision half-way through the scheduled one-hour session and qualified 18th. McNish was able to leave the car on his own and as a precautionary measure was taken to the circuit medical centre by FIA doctor, Professor Syd Watkins. After an examination and an x-ray to his knee, Allan was given the all-clear and it looks likely that he will take part in tomorrow's warm-up session, although a final precautionary check-up will take place on Sunday morning. The team is presently investigating the cause of the accident.
Mika Salo - Car No. 24
Position: 13th, 1m33.742s, 12/12 laps completed
"I thought we could have gone a bit better around this track. I gave it my absolute maximum but we do not seem to be able to get rid of the understeer on the car. I was going well on my final run but a car ran wide in front of me and I collected some grass on my tyres, losing me a couple of important tenths. All in all disappointing, but I am very pleased to hear that Allan is okay after his crash."
Allan McNish - Car No. 25
Position: 18th, 1m35.191s, 5/12 laps completed
"First of all, I feel fine. I have had a check-up and my knee is sore, but I am confident of getting back into the car tomorrow morning. Basically, everything felt good through the 130R corner but the car suddenly snapped into a big oversteer and I reversed heavily into the barrier. My natural instinct after the crash was just to make sure everything was still in working order and thankfully it is. I have got to see the medical crew tomorrow morning for a check-up but I am confident for tomorrow. The best thing is to get back in the cockpit as soon as possible."
Keizo Takahashi - Technical Co-Ordinator
"We are all relieved that Allan is okay after his accident. It says a lot for the safety in Formula 1 cars. As for Mika the balance of the car was very good and Mika gave his best effort to improve the performance of his car. We are sure Allan will be all right to race tomorrow. Nothing would make the Japanese fans happier!"
Weather: Dry with sunny spells
T-car: TF102/06 set up for Mika Salo
Review: The team worked on the standard Friday programme during yesterday's sessions, with both Mika and Allan preparing car set-up for the race and tyre comparisons. Completing 43 laps each, Salo was classified 11th and McNish 14th.
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