Panasonic Toyota Racing's home grand prix got off to a difficult start at the Suzuka circuit today. Olivier Panis set the 13th fastest time in first qualifying for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, whilst Cristiano da Matta was 14th on his first visit to the technically demanding 5.807-km track.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/08
Session Classification: 13th
Lap Time: 1m31.908s, +1.627s from pole
Running Order: 15th
"We worked hard in this morning's practice hour, but we are unfortunately not yet at the competitive level we were at in Indianapolis. We are struggling a bit with the general grip and balance of the car, but I like this circuit a lot, so we will continue to tune the car to be quicker tomorrow. The whole team is giving maximum effort at this final race of the season, and we will do the best we can in front of all the Japanese Toyota fans."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 14th
Lap Time: 1m32.256s, +1.975s from pole
Running Order: 13th
"I am not really satisfied with the performance we have shown today. We could already see in this morning's practice that the car is not behaving as well around here as we had initially expected it to, so we have to check a few things overnight. It is not the easiest track to learn in just one hour, but it is a fantastic circuit to drive - one of the best I have driven at all season. It is our home race, so I am ready to push for a good result this weekend. I think we will be in better shape tomorrow."
Ange Pasquali - Team Manager
"Not a great qualifying for us today. We are not as competitive as we expected to be and we have to find out why. Both Olivier and Cristiano lost time in different sectors compared to their respective times from the free practice this morning. Obviously, we will have a busy time this evening prior to tomorrow morning's sessions in order to improve our overall performance level. Ultimately, it is tomorrow's qualifying session that forms the grid, so we are still confident for the rest of the weekend."
Weather: Warm with hazy cloud
T-Car: TF103/02 set up for Olivier Panis Spare Chassis: TF103/04
Weekend at a Glance
Friday practice (dry track)
Panis P9, 1m32.011s, 21 laps
Da Matta P10, 1m32.133s, 25 laps