Toyota admitted that 'there is clearly something wrong on the car' after Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock both qualified on the back row of the starting grid for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix – the only problem is, they have yet to work out exactly what the problem is.
Having secured its first-ever front row lock-out in the top flight in Bahrain only three races ago, the big-budget Japanese manufacturer – Formula 1's third force in 2009 to-date – has effectively gone from hero to zero in conversely locking out the back row around the narrow, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality, where it has never finished higher than sixth place in seven previous appearances and where the TF109 has appeared ill-at-ease and cumbersome to say the least.
Neither Trulli nor Glock featured any higher than 14th place throughout the three free practice sessions in Monte Carlo, but even allowing for that, for neither driver to break away from the back row in qualifying was frustrating indeed. Both endured 'moments' during the session, with the former – one of only four drivers in the current field to have triumphed in the race dubbed 'the jewel in F1's crown' in seasons past – blaming former team-mate Fernando Alonso for baulking him in the closing stages of Q1 and preventing him from making the cut.
“It is extremely disappointing,” lamented the Pescara native, “but especially because I was on a pretty good lap at the end of Q1 when I was blocked by another car in the final two corners. That would have been my quickest lap and I would have been easily in Q2, so I am angry about that but ultimately we haven't shown good enough performance this weekend.”
“We have to analyse and see where the problems are,” agreed Glock, just over two tenths adrift of his Italian colleague in the final reckoning. “We struggled from the first lap this weekend. The car didn't feel great but it didn't feel terrible; it was just that the pace clearly wasn't there. I pushed as hard as possible, but it wasn't enough. Obviously I will do my best in the race tomorrow, but from this position on the grid we don't have much hope.”
Those sentiments were shared by the Cologne-based outfit's senior general chassis manager Pascal Vasselon, who is well aware of the need to rectify the issues – and fast – if Toyota is not to be overtaken in the pecking order by resurgent rivals Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault.
“It has been a very difficult weekend, obviously,” acknowledged the Frenchman. “There is clearly something wrong on the car which we are looking at; we have to fix this. The race will be difficult from where we start, but still we will keep on fighting.”