Panasonic Toyota Racing was back on track again today just five days after the European Grand Prix, with the first practice sessions at Spa-Francorchamps. The classic track, venue for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, is located just over an hour's drive from the team's technical centre in Cologne, Germany and the weekend started positively for the local team.
Spa is famed for changeable weather and that reputation was enhanced in first practice when clouds gathered and rain fell a few minutes in. By that time Jarno Trulli had already set a flying lap, unlike team-mate Timo Glock. With no improvement in conditions, both drivers took to the track later in the session on wet Bridgestone Potenza tyres, gathering information about the TF109's handling in rain. By virtue of his early lap on a dry track, Jarno was fastest but Timo's only timed laps came in the wet, leaving him down the order. Afternoon sun dried the track for second practice, allowing both drivers to concentrate on evaluating the revised front and rear wings which the team is using at Spa as part of its low-downforce aerodynamic package. In addition, comparison runs between the medium and soft tyres were carried out with Timo ending the day an impressive second fastest and Jarno also in the top eight.
Jarno Trulli: "It was a good Friday for us. Obviously there is still work to do to get the most out of the car and I need to find a bit more grip at the rear end but all in all I am very happy with the results today. I have a good feeling from the car so I hope it will be a competitive weekend for us. The track was wet this morning which meant we couldn't do all of the tests we had planned but we did some laps to better understand the car in those conditions. In the afternoon, when it was dry, the track just got quicker and quicker. I was working mainly on race pace today, getting the car set-up in race trim so we have a good balance for Sunday, and it seems to be reacting well."
Timo Glock: "Whenever you come back to Spa it is a nice experience to do your first laps of the weekend and that was the case again today. It's a great circuit and very satisfying for a driver, especially when you have a competitive car. It's hard to draw any conclusions from the wet session this morning but I am pleased to be second in the afternoon; that is very encouraging. The car felt pretty good and the lap times show that. Still, there are a couple of areas to improve so we will work on those before qualifying and try to find the perfect aerodynamic balance. I am happy with how things went today and I'm interested to see where we are tomorrow."
Dieter Gass, Chief Engineer Race and Test: "Overall it has been a positive day for us. It was a bit unfortunate that the first session was disrupted by wet conditions because dry weather is forecast for the rest of the weekend, so we lost some time to work on the car. In the afternoon we were mainly concentrating on assessing the revised aerodynamic package we have brought to this race. We also looked at the tyres and both specifications seem to be behaving okay. We anticipated some warm-up issues but that doesn't seem to be the case. In general we are quite happy with what we have seen so far so we are looking forward with optimism to the rest of the weekend."
Jarno Trulli (Car 9, Chassis TF109-06)
1st Practice: 1st, 1m 49.675s, 13 laps
2nd Practice: 7th, 1m 47.559s (+0.358s), 33 laps
Timo Glock (Car 10, Chassis TF109-05)
1st Practice: 18th, 2m 06.331s (+16.656s), 15 laps
2nd Practice: 2nd, 1m 47.217s (+0.016s), 29 laps