Panasonic Toyota Racing's strong performance in qualifying was shattered in today's United States Grand Prix as intermittent rain threw the race into disarray. A decision to bring Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta in for wet weather tyres proved costly as the early showers temporarily subsided, requiring a switch back to slick tyres. Ultimately, Da Matta completed the race in 9th position, whilst Panis retired on lap 27 after his TF103 spun in the damp conditions.
Cristiano da Matta - Car Number 21, Chassis TF103/02
Session Classification: 9th, +2 laps from race winner
"When the rain came down early in the race, we took a risk to come in for a change of tyres. Unfortunately, it didn't stay wet as long as we thought it would and the track dried up quickly, so we had to switch back to slicks. Even at this early point, we were one lap down and our race was effectively over, when it started to rain again. After we stopped again, I got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, but we were so far back that it made little difference. We have had a competitive package at this track all weekend and we had the pace to score good points today."
Olivier Panis - Car Number 20, Chassis TF103/08
Session Classification: DNF, +46 laps from race winner
"We worked really well on Friday and did a fabulous job to claim third on the grid. My start was brilliant and I exited the first corner in second place. I think our original strategy would have put us in a strong position to get a good result today. We planned to stop on lap 19 for the first of our two scheduled stops, but it began to rain and we decided to change our approach. We risked running wet tyres, but unfortunately this turned out to be the wrong way to go. I was forced to pit for a nosecone change after another car hit me, but we were already way back. I stopped shortly afterwards when the car spun in the slippery conditions. Despite the race result, we can draw some positive aspects from this weekend and we will certainly learn from today's experience."
Ove Andersson - Team Principal
"I would sum up today's US Grand Prix as a character-building day for Panasonic Toyota Racing. We took a risk when the rain started, but it didn't pay off. It is the first time we have been faced with such unpredictable and varied weather in a race and it is all part of our continued learning curve. We now head to Suzuka and the Japanese Grand Prix, where we will do all we can to end the season in style in front of Toyota's home crowd."
Weather: Overcast with rain at times
T-car: TF103/07 set-up for Cristiano da Matta. Spare Chassis: TF103/04
Weekend at a Glance
Friday practice (dry-wet track)
Panis P3, 1m11.388s, 20 laps
Da Matta P11, 1m12.084s, 23 laps
Friday qualifying (wet track)
Da Matta P11, 1m11.949s (+2.383s)
Panis P14, 1m17.666s (+8.100s)
Saturday practice 1 (damp-drying track)
Da Matta P6, 1m13.098s, 17 laps
Panis P7, 1m13.306s, 10 laps
Saturday practice 2 (dry track)
Panis P7, 1m11.758s, 22 laps
Da Matta P13, 1m12.671s, 15 laps
Warm-Up (dry track)
Panis P3, 1m12.127, 5 laps
Da Matta P7, 1m12.699s, 5 laps
Saturday qualifying (dry track)
Panis P3, 1m11.920s (+0.250s)
Da Matta P9, 1m12.326s (+0.656s)