The Panasonic Toyota Racing team is celebrating yet another top ten qualifying result after Olivier Panis qualified his TF103 in 6th place for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix. Cristiano da Matta is running a different technical set-up to his French team-mate, but struggled with oversteer on his sole flying lap to line up 13th on the grid. After scoring a fifth place qualifying result at the 2003 season-opener in Melbourne, it is the team's second top six grid slot of the year so far.
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/05
Session Classification: 6th
Lap Time: 1m18.811s +1.049s from pole
Running Order: 15th
"I am very happy with the result today. We had quite a few problems with the handling yesterday but the team reacted very well to improve the car and I felt a big improvement in the set-up this morning. My qualifying lap today was very good and I think we are on a positive strategy for tomorrow's race. We have shown in pre-season testing and during this weekend that the TF103 is very competitive at this Barcelona track. Starting from sixth on the grid, I feel that we are in a strong position for the race."
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02
Session Classification: 13th
Lap Time: 1m19.623s +1.861s from pole
Running Order: 17th
"I do not think my qualifying lap was perfect, but it was not too bad either. We missed the settings and the balance of the car a little bit and I was suffering from oversteer, so I could not push that hard. I am not as happy with the car's balance as I was yesterday, so now we have to try to figure out why and learn for the future. We were just too much on the oversteer side. We can do small corrections for the race but nothing big, so I will try my best to get as far up the field as possible with this starting position."
Keizo Takahashi - General Manager Car Design and Development
"I am very happy with this top six result and the whole Panasonic Toyota Racing team is pleased. We found a good set-up on Olivier's car and he put in a very strong drive today to score sixth - one of our best ever results for qualifying. In Cristiano's case, the car set-up was not as good as yesterday, but we think we have a good race strategy and we have the chance to achieve our first points of the season tomorrow."
Weather: Dry and Sunny.
T-Car: TF103/01 set up for Olivier Panis.
Review: Panis and Da Matta finished Friday's free practice 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. Qualifying on Friday saw both TF103s in the top 6 with Da Matta fourth and Panis sixth after clean, competitive flying laps. The duo was 5th (Panis, 1m18.985s, 34 laps) and 11th (Da Matta, 1m19.342s, 44 laps) in Saturday's free practice after a generally trouble-free 90 minutes. Work was concentrated on Michelin tyre evaluation and race preparations.