Toyotas Trulli and Glock - the perfect double act? 11 Mar 2008
The Australian Grand Prix is not only the start of a new Formula One season; for Toyota it is the start of a new era, with an exciting new driver line-up of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock bringing fresh optimism to the team.
For their seventh season in motorsports highest series, Toyota believe they have found a perfect blend of youth and experience - and this combination is already bearing fruit. Trulli and Glock have worked hand in hand to extract increasing levels of performance from the Japanese teams TF108, building a strong working relationship in the process.
Glock may be young, 25, but he has solid experience of different categories and arrives at Toyota as a proven champion following his superb title-winning GP2 campaign last year. Nevertheless, he has discovered that working alongside Trulli, one of the fastest drivers in the world with 11 seasons already behind him, has hastened his learning.
He's really experienced and that's good for me, he said. It's good experience for me to have somebody like him in the team. He knows the team for a long time, and has a lot of experience of how you set-up a car that makes it pretty interesting for me.
Throughout his career, Glock has shown the fighting qualities necessary to compete at the top; looking back at his route back to Formula One after his one season there in 2004 is a study of determination and hard work, not to mention enough natural talent to shine in every category he has competed in. But having a fast and experienced racer alongside also provides Glock with stiff competition, and the Toyota teams President John Howett expects a keen fight between the two men on the track, as well as close cooperation off it.
I think Timo has to recognise that Jarno is one of the quickest qualifiers out there, Howett explained. And in Formula One you tend to race where you qualify and finish the first lap, so not only does he have to show how competent a racing driver he was last year in GP2 he needs also to qualify at the highest level.
For Toyota, the positive energy created by the new driver line-up has been clear throughout winter testing. Glocks enthusiasm for testing and improving the car combines perfectly with Trullis experience and dedication, with the result that significant improvements have been made to TF108 set-up since the car was rolled out for the first time on 13 January.
Both drivers have made important contributions since then, and this has seen the TF108 show ever-increasing performance, including a fastest time of the day and impressive long-run pace in the final pre-season test at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya last month. This comes as no surprise to team manager Richard Cregan, who believes a blend of youth and experience is the best for the development of team and drivers.
I think when you bring a young driver in and you pair him up to an experienced Formula One driver like Jarno it works both ways, Cregan said. I think you have a very good transfer of knowledge from the more experienced driver to the younger driver - in terms of real driving experience, in terms of how to handle a car, how to handle team, feedback, all those things.
But then at the same time you have a very good shift of enthusiasm if you like from the young driver to the established driver because you know it's new and it's exciting. I think it works both ways and that's what happening at the moment to our benefit.
Glock, of course, is not entirely new to Formula One, having been test driver for Jordan in 2004, and raced for the team in four Grands Prix. This experience, as well as his two successful seasons in GP2, means he has a strong knowledge of most current Formula One circuits and he arrives in Melbourne well prepared for his Toyota race debut. Trullis experience is clear following 11 seasons in the most demanding and competitive sport on earth, but the Italian has lost none of his commitment and he is ready for a new experience - teaming up with Glock to lead Toyota's 2008 challenge.
The atmosphere is great inside the team, said the Italian. Timo is a young driver coming up who is very motivated. I am probably more motivated than ever and I am ready to push the team and improve the car.
And Trulli sums up the feeling in the team when he says: Definitely I think it's good that Timo has joined. It's good for everyone; good for me and for the team. He is a quick driver and I'm enjoying the time with him.