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Toyota unveil TF104 at Cologne base 17 Jan 2004

Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis with the Toyota TF104

The Toyota Formula One team today (Saturday) revealed their 2004 race car, the TF104, at their Cologne headquarters in Germany. Penned by Chief Designer Gustav Brunner and his team, the new machine is an evolutionary redesign of its TF103 predecessor.

"We have adopted similar principles for the TF104 race car to the ones we followed when producing the TF103," Brunner explained to the assembled press. "Using Toyota's philosophy of continuous improvement, the fundamental concept was again that of evolution not a revolution. The TF103 and TF104 may appear visually similar, but we have looked at every single part of the car, studied it, redesigned it and improved it. There is no carry over from last year's car, but we have worked on every single part to make it lighter, stiffer, more reliable and with better overall performance."

"Aerodynamics in general are the key to success in F1 and we have benefited immensely from our in-house windtunnel operating at optimum capacity," added Toyota's Director of Technical Co-ordination, Keizo Takahashi. "On the TF104, we have endeavoured to find the best compromise between aero efficiency and the car's stability."

Underneath the evolutionary bodywork, the Japanese squad's car's internal components have undergone a significant reassessment and redesign that the team is confident will reap rewards in the long term.

New Technical Director Chassis Mike Gascoyne, who joined from Renault at the end of last season, said he was encouraged by the new machine: "The entire design team has done a very good job on the TF104. It appears to be a solid car, but we will have to wait for testing to see precisely how good it is. 90 percent of chassis performance is in the car's aerodynamics, and that has been the priority on the TF104. We now need to look at ensuring short-term consistency to get the best from the car, the drivers and the team in 2004, whilst concurrently adopting a longer-term approach to get Toyota to the front of the grid in the future."

Toyota said the most challenging aspect of the new car had been on the engine side. With new 2004 regulations specifying that only one engine must be used per car for the entire race weekend, the priority of Technical Director Engine Luca Marmorini and his team was to retain a competitive power output over a longer lifespan.

"With the new rules, we have had to look at doubling the engine's life expectancy from 400km to around 800km," explained Marmorini. "Our guiding principles when designing the RVX-04 have been to increase the durability, whilst simultaneously maintaining the driveability and the performance from 2003. I honestly do not think that there will be such a drop in horsepower with the new engines, but we have had to work a lot on the lifing. The RVX-04 was fired up on the dyno in October and was run for the first time at a test on November 25 in the TF103B interim car. We will continue to work on this before we go to Melbourne, but I am confident that we are up to this new challenge."

Toyota will continue with their driver line-up of Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta in 2004 and both said they were naturally anxious to get behind the wheel of the TF104, with the first race of the season in Australia just around the corner.

"On occasions in 2003, we showed what Toyota is capable of," commented Panis. "Our race result in Hockenheim and our top three qualifying performances in Indianapolis and Suzuka proved that we could do the job. In 2004, we have to use these achievements as a springboard, to focus on reliability and get the results we deserve. That means plenty of points and a constant progression during the year."

Da Matta added: "My first season in F1 was a lot of hard work but highly enjoyable. I was hindered by having to learn most of the circuits for the first time, but along with the team, I think I showed my potential. This year will be a different story and I will be on a level playing field to the other drivers, so we should aim for consistency in our performance and to make real progress to the top teams in 2004."

Test and third driver Ricardo Zonta, with whose valuable testing work the TF104 has been created, will also be busy in 2004. One of the other new regulations for 2004, which permits teams from 5th-10th in last season's constructors' championship to run a third car in Friday's practice sessions, will give Zonta extra time in the cockpit.

See also: Toyota TF104 launch - in pictures