Timo the terrier eager to mark home turf 14 Jul 2008
For every Formula One driver, their national Grand Prix is an event to look forward to, but for Toyotas Timo Glock, this weekend's German Grand Prix represents a very special homecoming. With his mature approach and consistent pace, it is easy to forget Glock is in his first full season of racing in Formula One racing, so this weekend's race is his first German Grand Prix - and it comes at the perfect venue.
The 26 year-old was born in Lindenfels, a short drive from Hockenheim, and he grew up in the Odenwaldkreis region, where he lived until recently when he took up residence in Cologne to be close to Toyotas technical centre.
So Hockenheim is very much a home race for him, and that means not only will he be on familiar territory, he will have plenty of familiar faces to cheer him on as he looks for his second points finish of the season. A lot of friends are coming down and a lot of people I know," he says. "That makes it quite a special race."
Of course, the ambition for any racing driver is to win, so it is no surprise Hockenheim is one of Glock's favourite tracks, with a victory and third place on his last visit, as a GP2 Series driver in 2006, adding to an expanding collection of happy memories.
"Every time I've been to Hockenheim I have had really good races and I've won a few times," he adds. "It's one of the best races of the year for me, not just because it's my local track but also because I have been strong there."
Not only is Hockenheim a home race for Glock, it is the start of the second half of his first full season as a Formula One racer. So far the balance sheet says nine races and five points, but bare statistics only tell a fraction of the story. Glock has shown strong performance since the very start of the season and only bad luck denied him points on his debut in Australia. A points finish was also looking certain in Bahrain until gearbox gremlins struck, but in Canada he got the break his consistent performances deserved, capping a battling drive with fourth place.
Such is the competitiveness of the midfield teams this season, the fight for points is fiercer than ever, making it tough for a young driver to regularly finish in the top eight when he must compete against a grid filled with 10 Grand Prix winners, including his experienced and very quick team mate Jarno Trulli.
That is a formidable challenge, but one which Glock has risen to since joining Toyota at the beginning of the year. Formula One racing is more complex than a driver simply sitting behind the wheel and letting his talent do the talking; much more work is required to compete at the top - and that suits Timo the terrier.
"Timo is a track animal I would say," says Dieter Gass, chief race and test engineer for Toyota. "Really he is somebody who is very motivated and very target orientated. I like to compare him to a terrier because when he gets his teeth into something he will not let go before he has achieved what he wants."
Glocks helmet even includes a 'Glock dog' motif, chosen to symbolize commitment and determination; attributes he has shown in good measure since joining Toyota.
A sign of his commitment to the cause is his strong work ethic, which inspired his move to Cologne. In between his hectic schedule of races, tests and shakedowns, Glock is often seen hard at work in the factory, something he believes is crucial to his - and his car's - development.
"The team is based in Cologne and for me it is important to share as much information as possible about the car with my engineers," he explains. "I think that is much easier when you live just five minutes away from the company compared to having to fly for two hours to Cologne.
"To me it is completely natural and obvious that as a Formula One driver I need to work hard in order to help myself and my team move forward. As a driver you must be at one with the car; you have to know and feel your car 100 percent."
Not surprisingly, that attitude has endeared him to the team, particularly his equally hard-working car crew, as chief mechanic Gerard Lecoq explains: "Glock is very friendly and easy to work with because he's an honest person and we can always share information. He's a straightforward guy who is very supportive to his mechanics.
"Also, he is a very hard worker and doesn't want to leave the circuit if something isn't as it should be. If you do a quick tour of the paddock late in the evening there is almost no chance to see a driver, but if you find one it will be Glock."
That respect is mutual, for Glock sees the long hours and complete dedication of his car crew as they strive to provide a perfect car for every session. "The mechanics are really good guys and they work nearly 24 hours for a driver, he says. It's reassuring to have such good mechanics behind you because every time you go out into free practice, into qualifying or the race, you have a car that is just really well sorted out. We work hard and have a strong relationship."
As he enters the second half of his first full Formula One season, there would be no more perfect place for Glock to get back among the points scorers and add to his growing reputation, both within the Toyota team and around the paddock.