The opening day of action for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix proved to be a little disappointing for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team in Sepang today, with both TF103s experiencing set-up problems in practice and qualifying. On his first trip to the circuit, Cristiano da Matta did a good job to post the 11th quickest time with team-mate Olivier Panis only three places further back in 14th.
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02
Session Classification: 11th
Lap Time: 1m36.706s +1.726s from pole
Starting Position: 18th
"The qualifying session today was not too bad for me. It is my first time driving at the Sepang track, so I still have some room for improvement with my driving style here, but it's a track I really enjoy. The first qualifying session for me is always a difficult one because I only have the one-hour free practice in the morning to learn the circuit. Today, we got the balance of the car as close as we could, but tomorrow is another day and I am looking forward to it."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 14th
Lap Time: 1m36.995s +2.015s from pole
Starting position: 14th
"It has not been a fantastic day to be honest. We experienced some set-up problems in free practice and in the qualifying, so we have a lot of work to do this evening and in the sessions tomorrow to find the best set-up on the car. The main problem today was the grip level, which was not particularly good all day, so we need to improve that for tomorrow. I remain positive though, as I am sure we have some things to play with to find the best solution for second qualifying."
Gustav Brunner - Chief Designer
"I am a bit disappointed with today. There were set-up problems on both cars, more so on Olivier's than Cristiano's, but we need to get the cars right. We have a little bit of set-up work to do. Today we had too much oversteer and too much jumping over the bumps, but we have one-and-a-half hours tomorrow to find a cure for this, so I am still sure we can make a few places up in tomorrow's qualifying and get both cars in the top ten."
Weather: Extremely hot and sunny, but some cloud
Temperatures: Air 33-35, Track 39-50, Average humidity 46%
T-Car: TF103/04 set up for Cristiano da Matta
Free Practice Review:
Panis finished this morning's free practice in tenth position after experiencing some set-up difficulties in the one-hour session. Da Matta used the session to learn the Sepang track. He completed 24 laps and finished in 14th.
Following tomorrow morning's two free practice sessions, the second qualifying session will take place to decide the starting order for the 5th Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. Based on today's qualifying results, Olivier Panis will be 7th in the running order and Cristiano da Matta in 11th.