Second qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix today saw a significant improvement from Thursday's opening day of action for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team. Monaco rookie Cristiano da Matta put in a strong performance around the Principality to claim a top ten result for the team in 10th - his best qualifying result of the season so far. Olivier Panis, on the other hand, opted for a different strategy to his team-mate and will start from 17th place on the grid for tomorrow's race. Both drivers continued to suffer from insufficient levels of grip, which have hindered progress this weekend.
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/07
Session Classification: 10th
Lap Time: 1m16.744s +1.485s from pole
Starting order: 2nd
"I didn't expect to be so high up on the grid, let alone getting my best qualifying result of the season. During the lap, I already felt it was going to be a good one. We have made some improvements over the weekend, but there is still a problem with the grip level and we still have a big margin to improve. My driving at this track has been getting better and better and I am very pleased with my lap today. It will be a long and tough race, but our priority should be to complete the race, hopefully in a good position."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 17th
Lap Time: 1m17.464s +2.205s from pole
Starting order: 3rd
"This morning, we noticed that, although we made some small improvements to the car from Thursday, we still have the same problems with a lack of grip. I was really not happy with the car, so we decided to opt for a strategy that is more focussed towards our performance in the race, rather than in today's qualifying. With this in mind, I am pleased with my qualifying lap and we will wait to see how things turn out tomorrow."
Keizo Takahashi - General Manager Car Design and Development "Looking at our performance from Thursday, I have to be satisfied with today's result. I think 10th place is better than we expected, and given the problems we have had with the lack of grip this weekend, we could not have done much more. Cristiano drove an excellent lap, particularly as it is his first time driving in Monaco this weekend, and it is fitting that he has achieved his best qualifying result of the year at this track. Olivier took a different strategy to the session today, with more focus on the race, and we now have to see what tomorrow brings."
Weather: Dry, warm and sunny
T-Car: TF103/05 and TF103/06. Panis and Da Matta both have a T-car this weekend.
Free Practice Review: Panis set the 13th fastest time in Thursday practice (1m17.811s) after 21 laps of the 3.340km track. On his first run in an F1 car around the Principality, Da Matta was 20th (1m19.956s) but concentrated on learning the circuit over 29 laps. The team endured a torrid qualifying session with Panis suffering from lack of grip to line up 18th (1m19.903s) and Da Matta 19th (1m20.374s). Saturday morning free practice saw some slight improvements to the TF103s, but an overall lack of grip hindered progress. Da Matta was 15th (1m17.686s) after 38 laps, whilst Panis was 17th (1m18.101s) after 25 tours.