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Sunday, April 02, 2006

First Bridgestone-Toyota podium

First Bridgestone-Toyota podium
Australian GP - Bridgestone - Race

Ralf Schumacher took the Australian Grand Prix chequered flag in third place this afternoon, claiming Toyota Racing's first podium since switching to Bridgestone tyres.Ralf Schumacher started the race from sixth place on the grid but it was by no means an easy Grand Prix after an aborted race start and four safety car periods resulted in an incident filled 57-lap race. Of the ten Bridgestone runners only four finished with MF1 Racing's Christijan Albers crossing the line in 11th place and the Super Aguri F1 team cars finishing in 12th and 13th place positions. For the remainder of the Bridgestone runners it was a frustrating day of unfulfilled potential. Local hero Mark Webber had qualified in seventh place and like Ralf Schumacher, was using the new Bridgestone compound developed in recent testing. His race was curtailed on lap 23 with a transmission problem after leading the race for the previous two laps. His team-mate Nico Rosberg was caught up in an opening lap incident and retired. Toyota's Jarno Trulli also went out of the race on lap one, as did Ferrari's Felipe Massa. Michael Schumacher, who was working his way up through the field and was lying in sixth place on lap 32, crashed out after running wide and getting caught on the uneven grass verges.

Ralf Schumacher, who takes six points from today's result, lies in seventh place in the drivers' standings. The Bridgestone teams now have three weeks before the first European event of the season, the San Marino Grand Prix.Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager "Congratulations to Ralf and Toyota on their first podium finish this season. It was a fantastic result for both the team and Bridgestone's personnel and this will spur us on to aim for greater achievements.""Unfortunately today was not a good day for the majority of the Bridgestone shod cars. Three of them retired without completing a lap. Webber stopped with a mechanical problem and Michael Schumacher crashed out, which was frustrating as they would both have been strong finishers and Webber's lap times were competitive. We had done a lot of testing prior to the event to improve our tyre performance and we have seen some good results this weekend. We are confident that we have gone in the right development direction with our new compound range and will keep working to improve it further."

Mike Gascoyne, Toyota Technical Director"Obviously this was a fantastic result for us after a difficult start to the season. Thank you to Bridgestone for bringing the latest development compound. While all the teams seemed to struggle keeping the heat in their tyres in the restarts I think comparatively we suffered less. This was partially due to the new compound and partially down to the work we have been doing with Bridgestone."


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