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Contrasting fortunes at Toyota and Ferrari 20 Mar 2005

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 20 March 2005

Malaysia marked the breakthrough that Toyota has been looking for since it joined Formula One racing. Jarno Trulli’s second place gave the Japanese team their first ever podium finish – and Ralf Schumacher also drove an event-filled race to fifth place.

But for the mighty Ferrari, Malaysia is probably a race they would rather forget. The difference between the two teams in red was cruelly exposed by Michael Schumacher’s struggle for pace on his Bridgestone tyres, the World Champion finishing a minute and 20 seconds behind Alonso’s winning Renault.

Rubens Barrichello suffered from an even worse race, a piece of debris lodged in his rear wing upsetting the balance of his F2004. It rapidly upped the wear rate on his rear tyres and the subsequent lack of grip forced him to retire his otherwise healthy car with seven laps of the race still to run.

Ralf Schumacher’s eventful race deserves a special mention. Having qualified fifth on the grid, he briefly ran as high as fourth (during the second round of pitstops) before becoming involved in a spectacular battle with the Williams of Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld.

Ralf and Webber made contact as they scrapped for position, and in the next half lap the three changed position repeatedly, thrilling the crowds with some wheel-to-wheel racing. Ralf’s car seemed to be undamaged by the accident, although he later lost a winglet that became detached at high speed on the main straight.

Toyota’s first podium finish comes after the team have competed in 52 races, having made their debut in 2002.