Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Olivier Panis talks about this weekend's European GP, why he thinks it could be a tough race for the Cologne based concern and a lot, lot more...

''After scoring my first point of the season in Canada a fortnight ago, I am in an optimistic frame of mind heading to this weekend's European Grand Prix, although I think it could be a hard race for Panasonic Toyota Racing.

''As usual, we have been busy testing in between the races, with a focus not only on the next race, but also looking ahead towards the end of the season. I drove at Circuit Paul Ricard on Thursday, working on development parts for Indianapolis, which is the penultimate race of the season at the end of September! We have to work that far ahead if we want to make progress on our nearest rivals.

''While I was at Paul Ricard, my Panasonic Toyota Racing team-mate, Cristiano Da Matta, was at Jerez working on set-up and tyre choice for the next race at the Nurburgring. Running two test programmes at the same time requires a lot of effort, so as you can imagine, everyone in the team is continuing to work really hard, but the results will be well worth it in the long run.

''The Nurburgring is quite enjoyable to drive because it has some technical sections that are quite satisfying to get right, but unfortunately it is not a track that offers much in the way of overtaking opportunities.

''From a team performance perspective, I am reluctant to say how Panasonic Toyota Racing will get on this weekend because the TF103 has struggled so far this year at slow-speed circuits, which is how I describe the Nurburgring. There are a couple of quick corners, but not enough for the car's aerodynamics to make a big difference to the lap time. At low speed the car can be a bit unstable, which means we lose time on the turn-in to slow corners.

''In terms of set-up the Nurburgring is a maximum downforce track like most of the tracks nowadays. All the slow-speed corners mean that mechanical grip is important. Some of this grip comes from having good suspension and some of it from a good traction control system at the exit of the corner. The tyres will have a big part to play once again and I am very confident at Michelin will provide us with another good set of rubber this weekend, as they have all season.

''As long as we come away from the European Grand Prix feeling that we got the maximum from the car, I will be satisfied. We know we can achieve a good result when we get the best from the TF103, but with the reliability rate of Ferrari, McLaren, BMW-Williams and Renault - the four teams currently leading the championship - it is becoming increasingly difficult to score championship points, however we approach every race weekend with points as our target.

''The European Grand Prix is a home race for Panasonic Toyota Racing, as our factory is located only 45 minutes' drive away from the Nurburgring, so most employees will be coming along to cheer us on. I sincerely hope we can get some more points this weekend to reward everyone for their continued hard work and determination.''

Olivier Panis.


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