Panis: Toyota Can Fight for Top Five

Toyota driver Olivier Panis said today that his team are on the verge of fighting for top-five grid positions and possibly regular points after an impressive performance in qualifying for Sunday's European Grand Prix.

Panis: Toyota Can Fight for Top Five

Toyota driver Olivier Panis said today that his team are on the verge of fighting for top-five grid positions and possibly regular points after an impressive performance in qualifying for Sunday's European Grand Prix.

Frenchman Panis topped the times in two of the three practice sessions at the Nurburgring this weekend and led the times for most of the qualifying session before the top teams pushed him down to seventh place.

His teammate Cristiano da Matta finished tenth to ensure the Cologne-based team saw both their cars in the top ten of the grid for the second successive race and he believes there is even more to come in the second half of the season.

"I don't think we have the car to fight for pole position to be honest - yet - but I think we have the car to fight for the top five," he said. "We have both cars in the top ten again and it's really positive for the team. I am really positive about this weekend, and Canada as well, because I think we have found a good direction to set up the car quite well and using the tyres more - it looks really good."

Panis joined Toyota with Brazilian da Matta at the start of this season after the team dismissed last year's drivers Mika Salo and Allan McNish and he finally picked up his long-awaited first point for the team with eighth in Canada.

It will be the fourth time in this season's nine races that he has started from the top ten on the grid, with his best qualifying position being fifth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. But he has failed to finish on no less than five occasions because of mechanical problems and he is confident the team can turn around their fortunes in their home race this weekend.

"I think I did a very good lap and was using the car 100 percent and there was only 0.8 seconds between seven cars," said Panis. "We are improving all the time and I reckon we are in good shape for a points finish this weekend.

"We changed the strategy a little bit for tomorrow and I think the one we will take now will be the quickest for us. I am also very happy with Michelin and I am really confident for the race. I did many long runs yesterday and this morning and I feel quite happy with the tyres. Apparently tomorrow will be very hot, and this is very helpful for Michelin if we have high temperatures."

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