The Panasonic Toyota Racing team achieved a double top six result at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona today. Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis both completed competitive single-shot qualifying runs to record the fourth and sixth fastest time respectively in the first qualifying session for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02
Session Classification: 4th
Lap Time: 1m17.443s +0.313s from pole
Starting Position: 16th
"We have come to Barcelona this weekend where we have been quick in pre-season testing. It is a circuit, which the team knows very well and that has obviously been a big advantage in terms of finding a good set-up on the car. I am very pleased with my qualifying run. It was a good, clean lap and the car performed well. We now have to sit down and find out what areas still need improving before tomorrow's practice and qualifying. Overall, I am happy with today's performance and fourth place is definitely good for starters."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 6th
Lap Time: 1m17.746s +0.616s from pole
Starting position: 15th
"We didn't manage a lot of things in practice this morning because we had some problems during the session. I am still not a hundred percent happy with the car, but we have the rest of the day to work on this and prepare a bit better for tomorrow. Having said that, sixth position is very good for the team and both cars are performing competitively. We also went well here in winter testing, but there are still things to improve on the car and I think we can go even quicker."
Ange Pasquali - Team Manager
"This morning, we began the weekend in a positive way. We have tested here a lot over the winter like most of the other teams and, on the basis of this first qualifying result, it appears to have been very beneficial for us. We had some set-up problems on Olivier's car in this morning's practice session, which limited his running, but the team did a good, professional job to improve in time for his qualifying run. To have two cars in the top 6 is a fabulous result and I hope we can continue like this tomorrow."
Weather: Dry and sunny all day
Temperatures: Air 24-27, Track 38-41, Average Humidity 33%
T-Car: TF103/01 set up for Cristiano da Matta
Free Practice Review: The team is using some new aerodynamic parts on the TF103s this weekend. Panis and Da Matta finished this morning's one-hour free practice session in 5th and 9th positions respectively and worked on the usual Friday task list of car set-up work and Michelin tyre evaluation. Both drivers reported some handling difficulties on their TF103s, despite the encouraging lap times. Panis completed just thirteen laps but set the fifth best time of 1m17.220s. Da Matta managed 26 tours of the 4.73-km track to finish 9th in 1m18.101s.