A day to forget for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team at the Circuit de Monaco today after the opening qualifying session of this weekend's 61st Monaco Grand Prix. Drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta qualified right down the field in 18th and 19th positions after troublesome single flying laps.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/04
Session Classification: 18th
Lap Time: 1m19.903s +3.598s from pole
Starting position: 18th
"I am really disappointed with the start of this weekend. The car was really not very quick here today and I suffered from a distinct lack of grip. It is the same situation that we had in Austria, so now we need to work really well together to start to improve the car for the rest of the weekend. I tried to push on my lap today and I got a big oversteer in the Portier corner, which lost me easily one-and-a-half seconds, but at the end of the day that made little difference. We were simply uncompetitive today."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 19th
Lap Time: 1m20.374s +4.069s from pole
Starting Position: 14th
"Today was my first time racing on this circuit and I found it quite fun to drive, even if the time today was not very good. For sure I have a lot to improve in terms of driving this circuit but one hour is nowhere near enough time to learn a new track, especially one like Monaco. We have to maximise the 90 minutes of practice on Saturday morning to get more track mileage and we still have a lot of things that need to be done on the setting of the car."
Gustav Brunner - Chief Designer
"I really don't think we should read too much into today's results. I am sure Cristiano was taking it a bit easy. It was his first time at this track and I am sure he was playing it safe. He has raced on street tracks in CART, so he should be able to get up to speed by Saturday when he can get more laps done. Olivier managed only 21 laps in this morning's session, and only one proper run on new tyres. It looks bad, but I am ever confident and the real picture will emerge on Saturday afternoon, when it counts."
Weather: Dry and sunny, clouding over towards the end of the session
T-Cars: TF103/05 and TF103/06. Both drivers have a spare car this weekend.
Free Practice Review: Olivier Panis set the 13th fastest time in Thursday practice (1m17.811s) after 21 laps of the 3.340km Monaco track. On his first run in an F1 car around the Principality, Cristiano da Matta was 20th (1m19.956s) but concentrated mainly on learning the track over his 29 laps.