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Toyota Aims To Overtake BMW

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Toyota, BMW

Toyota Aims To Overtake BMW

Anthony Fontanelle
May 11, 2007

As the current Formula 1 season unfolds, Toyota has set its eye to overtake BMW and become the third fastest team. The team is currently competing in a tight race against teams such as Renault, Red Bull, and Williams. Team President John Howett is confident that his team has what it takes to pull away from the said teams and compete with the German team.

The announcement came as the Barcelona Grand Prix approaches. To date, the team has had considerable successes but needs podium finishes to become a strong contender to BMW. Howett maintained that their goal for the season is to continue what they have been doing in order to maintain their current standing as one of the top teams in the second group. He also pointed out that they have to be able to prevent slipping down the rankings.

Howett said that the team has gone a long distance since they have joined the F1 melee. “It's clear from last year that we can make major improvements in performance over a season after we moved from a pretty slow start to a competitive position at the end of the year,” he said. Howett expressed his confidence on his team to perform well for the remainder of the season although he maintained that they will be up against some strong teams. “We are intending to do exactly the same this year but we are acutely aware there are another four, five or six teams out there trying to do exactly the same,” said Howett. “It is a motivating challenge for the people here to do it again and to show we are an emerging and serious challenger on the F1 grid,” he added further.

Meanwhile, Toyota's Senior General Manager Pascal Vasselon talks about his expectations for the team at the upcoming Barcelona Grand Prix. Vasselon also reflected on team Toyota's accomplishment at the Bahrain Grand Prix. He explained how the race has gone for the team. “On the one hand it was a better race for us than expected,” he says. “People may remember that in Bahrain testing we were not looking so good. In fact there were some obvious explanations, the first one being that we had quite a few small reliability issues that just prevented us from running. When you don’t get a lot of mileage you end up in a vicious circle - you don’t develop the car, you don’t evolve a set-up and so it goes on.”

He also compared the Bahrain race to the Malaysian Grand Prix saying: “One consequence was that we were unable to run low levels of downforce. From that point of view quite a lot changed at the race and in terms of performance with one car we were another step closer to the top, even compared to Malaysia. With Ralf (Schumacher) we were not as quick as we would have liked and we clearly have to review some of the set-up guidelines. At some places, such as Bahrain, some of those recent guidelines are simply not working.”

Currently, Jarno Trulli, one of Toyota's drivers, is number eight on the driver’s championship with four points to his credit. Ralf Schumacher, another Toyota driver, sits at the eleventh spot with a single point to his credit. As a team, Toyota sits on fifth with five points to their credit as the team they are trying to overtake; BMW Sauber is occupying the third spot. Currently leading the field in the constructor’s championship is the team of McLaren-Mercedes with 44 points. Ferrari sits at second with 39 points. BMW Sauber has 18 points and Renault sits at fourth with nine points.

Aside from these five teams, the only other team to have gained points for the season is Williams-Toyota with two points and is currently owning the sixth place.

The next race this season will be in Barcelona and that race will show if Toyota can be a strong contender for BMW Sauber which fields cars with high performance that one can see in a BMW car equipped with high performance engines and reliable auto parts such as BMW alternators, starting motor, spark plugs, and the like. Vasselon explained what their team will do as they go to Barcelona for the next race. “Having time after the first race gave us the opportunity to prepare quite a large aerodynamic upgrade. We will come to Barcelona with a new engine cover, a new floor and new rear crash area. It was quite a lot of work and we went through another homologation of the rear crash site,” says Vasselon. “Barcelona for us does correspond to a significant upgrade of our aero package,” he added further.

As far as challenging BMW for the third spot, Vasselon has this to say: “There is a trend developing for us. We have been progressing in terms of qualifying speed for the first three races and in Bahrain we were clearly the fourth fastest team with Jarno. In the second qualifying session, when all cars were in optimum low fuel configuration, Jarno was seventh quickest and with a 0.4s gap to Williams, which was comfortable. The next target is to catch BMW Sauber. Ferrari and McLaren is another step again, but we like a challenge!”

Source:  Amazines.com

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