The Panasonic Toyota Racing team have given the new TF104B the thumbs up following the German Grand Prix Sunday, team boss, Tsutomu Tomita declaring that it 'showed really encouraging pace'.

Speaking following another disappointing result, which saw Cristiano da Matta retire with a blown tyre, and Olivier Panis finish a disappointing 14th, after stalling on the grid, Tomita added that in his view they could have finished in the top eight and thus scored points - had things gone more there way.

"It was a problematic and extremely disappointing race result for Toyota," he reflected, "but I think we can take a lot of positive things away after the first race weekend with our revised TF104B car. We had the pace to score some points, as we can see from setting the fourth fastest lap of the race.

"Unfortunately, our race was over at the beginning when Olivier stalled on the grid. He then lost a lot of time stuck behind backmarkers and was unable to make up enough positions. Cristiano also had a lot of traffic but was forced to retire with a rear tyre puncture, the exact cause of which we have to ascertain with Michelin.

"The TF104B showed a really encouraging pace and both drivers set competitive lap times when they had a clear track. All in all, we are disappointed that we could not score the points we deserved, but at the same time we should be pleased with the car's performance at this weekend's German Grand Prix."

Panis, who had qualified an encouraging ninth, was annoyed that yet again, a potential points finish was lost, due to problems getting off the grid. The Frenchman reckoned that it might be because of a technical problem, as opposed to driver error.

"I am very disappointed with the problem that I encountered at the start of the race when I stalled on the grid and was forced to start in last place. This year, between Cristiano and me, we have experienced this type of problem on different occasions," he explained. "Sometimes, drivers make mistakes but because the problem has recurred, we should really check carefully to see if there is a related technical problem.

"The performance of the car actually looked competitive and we were able to do some very quick laptimes. Now, we need to focus on developing the TF104B further and to make further improvements for the upcoming races."

da Matta meanwhile had an even more frustrating weekend, not only did he fail to finish in the race, but he qualified a lowly 15th.

"My retirement from the grand prix was pretty sudden, although I had felt an increasing vibration in the rear of the car occasionally during the race. The right-rear tyre suddenly went, but it is difficult to know what caused it to blow until we study the data," he said.

"My start was okay, but I soon got stuck in traffic, which slowed me down quite a bit. On a positive note, the speed of the TF104B seemed quite good in race conditions, and generally I am encouraged by the weekend. I think I showed clearly that on full tanks, when I wasn't being held up that I could set some highly respectable lap times."

 

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