Olivier Panis Q&A

Olivier Panis was one of the stars of the US GP weekend, giving Toyota its best qualifying position to date with third, and then running second in the early stages. Alas a premature stop when the first shower came proved to be his undoing, as he had to switch back to dry tyres before it rained properly and he had to come in yet again for wets. Toyota's weatherman had got the timing exactly right but not the quantity of the rain, resulting in a wrong decision on the pit wall. Nevertheless Indy was a good reminder that Panis can get the job done, and that Toyota is getting better. Contrary to expectations he was due to stop relatively late and was not on a low fuel load. Adam Cooper spoke to the Frenchmen.

Olivier Panis Q&A



"My verdict to be honest is that I'm staying really positive. I've really enjoyed this year for different reasons. First of all when we started the winter tests the new car was much, much better than last year's car. We did a good job and the speed was there, and when we started the season, we were very competitive. We lost some points because of experience and reliability problems, but I think we learned a lot about this."



"We made some big steps in performance during the season, and we caught up some points. I know it's not enough, because I think if we didn't have this reliability problem we would have had a lot more points. But I think we learned a lot of things. The target for Toyota was to be in the top 10 most of the time, and I think I was in the top 10 13 times. So we've followed the target, but I'm definitely sure we want more points. The base of the car is really good, I'm quite happy with that, and we improved the car quite well during the season. I think we've learned a lot of things for next year."



"Where we need to continue to improve is the package, which means more downforce, more efficiency, and to improve the suspension front and rear to have more mechanical grip. But I think everybody knows what we need for next year. I'm positive for the last race because in Indianapolis we looked really competitive with the fuel."



"We don't have a real weak point. The base of the car is good, the stiffness is good, but if there's a weak point it's the rear suspension. I think we use the rear tyres a little bit too much. We need a little bit more traction, particularly on the used tyres. After that I think we need to improve the downforce and efficiency."



"I'm sure it's a little bit hard for me because we did a very good job all weekend. I did a fantastic start to be in a good space. Also we had such a good strategy because we planned to stop on lap 19, and I think we were in very good shape. The rain came and somebody called and we decided to stop, and it was not raining enough to profit from it. We learned something and we don't need to point the finger at anybody. I think next time we don't do the same."



"No. We decided. When we are a team, we need to be a team."



"Yes, when I went out."



"It was really painful, because at the same time I went out of the pits the anti-stall came in and I wasn't able to recover because we had a problem with the electronics. So already the race was over for us. But anyway we are a team, and as I said I think we learned something."



"I think it was a big opportunity for us, but anyway after that I hit David Coulthard. He was on the slick and I was on the wet, and I don't know what happened. but I hit him. And I needed to go back and change the nose. So the race was already over."



"Yes, it was fun. Because of my good start I fought a lot. I followed Kimi and I was on quite a good pace from a strategy point of view, and when Ralf overtook me he was so much quicker on the straight line compared to me. But I was quite confident after that because I had such a good balance and everything was working well."



"For me he overtook me under the yellow flags. When he overtook me I was thinking he'd back off so I could overtake him again, but nothing happened. For me I said he should take a penalty for that, because otherwise what is the rule. If you have yellow flags, you don't overtake. I saw the yellow flags and I just tried to brake a little bit early because I was sure that he saw that."

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