Initial objectives were achieved in Imola today with Panasonic Toyota Racing scoring its first two-car race finish of the season at the San Marino Grand Prix. Olivier Panis brought his TF103 home in ninth position, just short of a points-scoring result, whilst team-mate Cristiano da Matta passed the chequered flag in 12th place. It was the Brazilian's third finish of 2003, whilst Panis's top-ten result marks the Frenchman's first classification of the year to date.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Classification: 9th, + 1 lap (from race winner)
Starting Position: 10th
"The positive point about today's result is that we can celebrate our first two-car finish of the season. I did my absolute best today, pushing hard on every lap and it is nice to complete my first race for Toyota. The car was not too bad today and everything worked okay. The team has done a good job all weekend and I am pleased with the joint effort from every single person. Ninth is obviously a frustrating place to end a race, just out of the points, but the reliability is there again and that is very important for the next round. I am now looking ahead to the next race in Barcelona, where the car should perform much better and we should be in a position to go a step further and pick up some points."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02
Classification: 12th + 1 lap (from race winner)
Starting Position: 13th
"I had a good first and second stint in the race, but unfortunately this track is difficult for overtaking, and after my second pit stop I was unable to get past the cars in front of me. This track is not a track that suits our car, so I feel that we did a reasonable job in the circumstances. I am much more confident driving the TF103 and I did the maximum I could today. We made big improvements to the car since Friday and it was not so bad in the race. Barcelona should be much better for us, and we have completed plenty of kilometres there in testing, so I think we should go well there in two weeks' time."
Ove Andersson - Team Principal
"First of all I must say that I am extremely pleased that we have seen both cars complete today's race. This is a big step forward for the whole team. We struggled here on Friday, so in the end, I think we have the best result we could expect from this weekend. The team has worked very well and the cars have been reliable. I am particularly encouraged to see how well the pit stops worked today. Now we have to improve the overall speed of the car and look ahead to the next race in Spain."
T-Car: TF103/01 set up for Olivier Panis
Review: Panis was not happy with the opening practice session on Friday after a brake problem limited his running. Da Matta worked on tyre evaluation and car set-up. They lined up 16th (Da Matta) and 17th (Panis). An error in the first sector of his flying lap in Friday's qualifying put Da Matta down in 18th spot (1m24.854s), but after radical changes to his car set-up, Panis finished in 12th (1m22.765s). Saturday morning free practice saw further improvements to the handling of both TF103s. Panis was classified 10th (1m24.099s) with Da Matta completing 40 laps, ending the session 14th (1m24.683s). Clean laps during Saturday's grid-determining qualifying session resulted in 10th place for Panis, and 13th for Da Matta, with both drivers pleased with their laps.
Next test sessions: 22-25 April-Mugello: (Panis 22-24, Da Matta 23-25, Zonta 22, 25)