Panasonic Toyota Racing escaped the European winter for its double-header test at the Bahrain International Circuit, which began in the Gulf state today. The final multi-team test before the start of the season kicked off under clear skies and in warm sunshine with race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli behind the wheel. The hot weather gave the team a chance to try out the new Bridgestone tyres for the first time in the kind of conditions expected at many races this year. The team also had new aerodynamic parts on the car for evaluation. Trulli's day barely started before a gearbox control issue forced him back into the garage for lengthy repairs while Schumacher took advantage of the near-perfect conditions to register some early laps. Unfortunately Schumacher was also halted as lunchtime approached when a clutch needed repairing, but when the green flags waved to start the afternoon session, both drivers were back on track. Minor repairs caused further delays and the team is now looking forward to a more positive second day.
Ralf Schumacher: "Today was a difficult day for me because we had some small issues on the car so we were not able to do all the work we planned to do. There are still some things to sort out but there are enough days left of this test here in Bahrain. It's still too early to say how competitive anyone is so I am not sure how any of the teams rank. We have had some very good tests but we still have some issues to work at so we will continue to push hard."
Jarno Trulli: "It was not a good day unfortunately. We had a few issues and the car was in the garage quite a lot. We did not do as many miles as we had hoped for so we still have some things to focus on. Now I hope we can do more miles tomorrow so we can make progress."
Dieter Gass, Chief Engineer Race and Test: "This was definitely not the first day we imagined here. We faced quite a few issues during the day which prevented us running through our programme smoothly. On Ralf's car after trouble with the clutch we had a problem with the differential control which investigated throughout the afternoon. With Jarno's car we had a gearbox control issue in the morning which cost us a lot of time. Overall unfortunately we couldn't do a lot of work on the car. We will have to continue with our programme and we are still optimistic as there are nearly two weeks of testing left here in Bahrain."