The penultimate day of the 2003 racing season brought Panasonic Toyota Racing's best ever joint qualifying result of the year topping the success from Indianapolis two weeks' ago. In only his first race weekend at the Suzuka circuit, Cristiano da Matta scored the team's second consecutive top-three grid slot, qualifying his TF103 in 3rd position for this weekend's Japanese GP. The Brazilian was backed up strongly by Olivier Panis who will start Toyota's home race alongside his team-mate from 4th place. Although rain was a contributing factor in today's tremendous result, the whole team has worked hard to improve the performance of its TF103 race cars since yesterday's difficult opening practice and qualifying session.
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 3rd
Lap Time: 1m32.419s, +0.706s from pole
Running Order: 7th
"I am obviously very pleased with our qualifying performance here in Suzuka today. 3rd and 4th is really fantastic. I am not just pleased with the lap time, but also with the hard work that the whole team put in overnight to improve the car. We struggled quite a bit in the sessions yesterday, so I was happy that the car felt so much more connected this morning. Okay, we had help from the rain this afternoon, but even so, I believe we would still have been in the top 8. I am confident that we can be quite strong in our home race tomorrow. I am really looking forward to doing all we can to give the Toyota fans a good result."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/08
Session Classification: 4th
Lap Time: 1m32.862s, +1.149s from pole
Running Order: 8th
"This is a very positive result for the whole team and we have repeated our strong qualifying performance from the last race. Having both cars on the second row of the grid tomorrow at Toyota's home grand prix is exceptional, even if we finally had a bit of help from the weather. Despite this result, there is still some work to be done on my car. We still have to find out why I am missing some top speed down the straight in comparison to Cristiano's car. I think I will use the wet weather this afternoon to stay in and work on it with the team."
Keizo Takahashi - General Manager, Car Design and Development "At our second home grand prix, I am extremely happy that we did the best ever qualifying result with both Cristiano and Olivier on the second row of the grid. Cristiano did a fantastic job throughout the day, especially considering this is his first time at Suzuka, which is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar. As for Olivier, the car was not as well balanced as it could have been, but he drove a faultless lap and gave his absolute best. We want to keep this momentum up and achieve some good points in tomorrow's race."
Weather: Cloudy with some light drizzle, increasing towards the end of the session.
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
Friday qualifying (dry track)
Panis P13, 1m31.908s (+1.627s)
Da Matta P14, 1m32.256s (+1.975s)
Saturday practice 1 (dry track)
Da Matta P6, 1m33.963s, 19 laps
Panis P13, 1m34.541s, 14 laps
Saturday practice 2 (dry track)
Panis P7, 1m33.082s, 17 laps
Da Matta P9, 1m33.133s, 18 laps
Warm-Up (dry-damp track)
Da Matta P2, 1m33.481s, 5 laps
Panis, No time set, 4 laps