Panasonic Toyota Racing suffered an extremely disappointing qualifying session on the streets of Monte Carlo today, which leaves Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli starting the Monaco Grand Prix from the second half of the grid. Heavy rain in the build up to qualifying and a slight shower as the drivers were getting ready left the track damp but still suitable for the dry-weather, grooved Bridgestone tyres. That meant Ralf and Jarno waited five and three minutes respectively before leaving the pits to set their first lap times. As track conditions improved, all drivers bettered their lap times and in the scramble to make it through to Q2, Jarno avoided the traffic and progressed in 13th place. Unfortunately for Ralf, his fastest lap was not quite enough to progress, leaving him to start 20th. In the next session, Jarno looked to be on course to reach the top-ten shoot-out when traffic on his late flying lap cost time and caused him to miss out. He set the 14th fastest time but will start from 13th after a penalty for David Coulthard and the team will now focus on making the best of the situation in tomorrow's race.
Jarno Trulli: That was a difficult day for us. First of all we knew that in these conditions, after the rain earlier today, the track was not rubbered in and in that situation we struggle a bit compared to the others. I then had several problems during Q2. First, when I was on a quick lap at the end of the session, I had traffic and that cost me more than a second in the last sector. In the last run I had a problem with the brakes, I could not push any more because it was too dangerous. It will be difficult in the race because overtaking is so hard here but I will give it my all tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher: That was a very disappointing and difficult session for me. Qualifying around Monaco with 22 cars on such a twisty track at once is always difficult and Q1 was made a bit trickier with the rain just before the session started which affected the track conditions. Unfortunately I was not really content with my set-up and I did not make it to Q2 so of course I am not happy. That's the way it goes at Monaco sometimes. It's unfortunate we will start so far down on the grid on a track like this where overtaking is so hard but we'll just try to do the best job possible in the race tomorrow.
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: Obviously we lost the pace that Jarno showed in practice on Thursday afternoon and he was not able to show the potential of the car due to a combination of two factors; a brake problem and also the traffic here in Monaco. He suffered from some very bad traffic in the second part of this qualifying session and that really hurt his lap. He lost a lot of time on his last flying lap as a result and those two factors explain the poor result he had in qualifying. Ralf has been uncomfortable with the set-up of the car since the beginning of the weekend. We could not make the car kind enough for the kerbs so he could not push as hard as he wanted. When you are not in the first four on the grid in Monaco you are always in for a difficult afternoon on Sunday. From where we are on the grid it will be particularly hard but in Monaco you never know what will happen and now our strategy decision is clearer.
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