Free practice round-up for Toyota F1 team
Panasonic Toyota Racing hit the track at the Nürburgring today with two 90-minute practice sessions for the European Grand Prix. With the team’s factory only an hour’s drive away in Cologne, Toyota is the local team and both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli have plenty of experience of the Nürburgring.
After the early-morning mist cleared, first practice began with track temperatures of 26°C and both drivers completed over half a race distance, with Ralf setting the 7th fastest time, and Jarno the 11th. Soon after that session ended, a thunderstorm hit but the rain stopped in time for second practice, which began on a damp track.
The team waited until conditions improved enough for dry, grooved Bridgestone Potenza tyres after around 30 minutes. Track conditions continued to improve, as did the lap times of Ralf and Jarno, who ended the session strongly, in fifth and sixth respectively. The team will now analyse the data from today’s extensive running and push for similarly strong results in qualifying tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher said: “We had a good two sessions today. It’s good to be back driving in front of my home fans again and I am pretty happy with the work we did, and especially with our lap times. In the last few races we have changed a few things with our set-up and that has helped. My pace was quite competitive in France and Silverstone, even if the results were not there, and that seems to apply to this circuit as well.
We worked on the car set-up, as well as understanding the tyres on this track, and everything went well. The team has a lot of information now, more than we expected because the rain stopped earlier than predicted, which gave us the chance to do a few more laps than usual. We are pushing very hard and my target for tomorrow is to get into Q3 again, which will give us the opportunity to fight for points. We will work on the car before qualifying and I am feeling optimistic.”