Panasonic Toyota Racing enters the second round of the 2005 F1 championship in Malaysia this weekend determined to open its 2005 points tally after just missing out in Melbourne.
STAND AND DELIVER
After placing his TF105 firmly on the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix and shadowing eventual race winner Giancarlo Fisichella until the first round of pit stops, Jarno Trulli fell foul of a blistered rear tyre after his first refuelling stop which dropped him down the field to a disappointing ninth place come the chequered flag. Jarno, however, is adamant for better fortune in this weekend's 58-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "I was buoyed by our front row starting position in Australia because it wasn't all down to the weather conditions in qualifying. The TF105 was well suited to Albert Park and I was pleased with the car's behaviour over the weekend. Therefore, I am confident for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Sepang is an interesting track technically and one of the most demanding of the season for drivers because of the intense heat and humidity. With the new technical regulations for engines and tyres, we could see some surprises and upsets this weekend. I hope we fall into the former category. We missed out on points in Melbourne, but I looking to rectify that in Sepang."
Starting from near the back of the field in Melbourne courtesy of a qualifying downpour, Ralf Schumacher had a competitive debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing, although few outside of the team even noticed. An unscheduled extra pit stop to tighten a loosened seat belt ended his chance of points, but in the process of making up positions to an ultimate 12th place, Ralf set the ninth quickest lap of the race, just 0.6s from the race winner's best lap. Like Jarno, Ralf is out to shake up the grid in Malaysia this weekend.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "The Australian Grand Prix was full of mixed fortunes for me after sheer bad luck with the weather in qualifying, followed by an unexpected extra trip to the pits in the race. All in all, it was a missed opportunity to score points. My race debut for Toyota was extremely encouraging in terms of car performance and team operations. It can only be a matter of time before we finish in the points. Malaysia will be interesting because most cars will start the race with the same engine that finished in Australia. In Sepang, with the stifling heat, we could see some teams with technical issues. I think we should be confident in our TF105 car and RVX-05 engine and if our excellent reliability continues, points are by no means out the question."
With ambient temperatures often reaching in excess of 35°C, some 25°C hotter than the best of the pre-season testing conditions, it is not only the drivers who are put under pressure in Malaysia. Teams are forced to take extra preventative measures to keep their cars in shape during the entire weekend, but have only had European winter climes in which to prepare.
Mike Gascoyne - Technical Director Chassis: "The most challenging aspect for the weekend comes not from track, but from the ambient temperatures. Inside the car, the extra heat is impossible to replicate at pre-season testing, so we have to use data acquired from tests in Spain and data from previous racing seasons to carefully analyse what conditions to expect during the weekend. We need to make use of an efficient cooling system in the car, which I am pleased to say, performed well on the TF105 in Australia. As part of our ongoing development programme, which is focussed predominantly on aerodynamic upgrades, we will introduce a new front wing in Malaysia, as well as some other new smaller components, all of which have been designed to further improve the efficiency and performance of our entire aerodynamic package.
READY TWO RACE
Panasonic Toyota Racing will start the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend with the same two engines with which it left the pitlane for the first lap of first practice in Melbourne. Each RVX-05 engine already has considerable mileage under its belt and will be looking at double that by the time Jarno and Ralf cross the chequered flag in Malaysia, whilst coping with the added pressure of the Sepang sun.
Luca Marmorini - Technical Director Engine: "Malaysia will be the first race where we will see the effects of the new engine rules. Reliability was impressive in Australia, but combined with the heat of Sepang, this second race will be extremely demanding for engines. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding loopholes in the new engine rules, but exploitation of such grey areas is against our understanding of racing. Even though our drivers did not score any points in the last race, we decided to pass the chequered flag out of respect for the new rules. We fully accept the spirit and intention of the 2005 engine regulation and we believe that if we are to challenge for points regularly, we must finish the race and that means having an engine to last two races. With Ralf completing 570km and Jarno 670km in Melbourne, this obviously increases the chance of having an engine failure in Malaysia, but this is how we must act if we are to fight for points."