Longer wheelbase, new aero concept for latest Toyota 10 Jan 2008
Toyota say their new car is significantly different to its predecessor, as a result of the teams continuous search for improvement, as well as regulation changes. In addition to a longer wheelbase, the TF108 boasts a distinctive new aerodynamic concept and advanced suspension lay-outs.
The main reason for making the wheelbase longer is to achieve more stability, but secondly we also expect greater aerodynamic development potential, giving our aerodynamicists wider surfaces and more space to play with, explained Pascal Vasselon, the teams senior general manager (chassis).
The aerodynamic concept of this car has changed. The TF107 was an evolution of the TF106, but this time the new package is a departure from recent Toyotas. The primary aerodynamic design philosophy for the TF108 is geared towards optimising the entire package. In mechanical terms we felt we had a strong basis so we have focused on making a few refinements.
Improvements on the new car are not restricted to chassis development. Under the skin of the TF108 lies a new gearbox and, importantly, a new standardised electronic control unit (ECU) for the RVX-08 engine.
The change to a standard ECU represented a major challenge, as Luca Marmorini, senior general manager (engine), explained: On a Formula One engine, or indeed any modern car engine, even the mechanical parts are controlled by electronics so this is a big, big change.
For a high revving engine, like in a Formula One car, the engine will definitely change a lot from a dynamic point of view due to a change in the control system. It is a big investment from a development point of view to adapt it.
With engine development largely frozen by the regulations, only minor modifications have been allowed in the interests of reliability. This has meant Toyota concentrating on how the engine is used, dragging every last bit of performance from the package as well as constantly improving the elements around the engine where development is permitted - all this, while optimising engine performance with a new ECU and the traction control ban.
That work does have a positive effect on performance and lap time but we are not speaking about big changes because we do not have the freedom, added Marmorini. We can only work within this very strict framework but we have done some interesting development and we expect to see positive results in 2008.
Following its launch, work resumes immediately on the TF108 with a roll out on January 13, followed by the cars first official test a day later, both at Jerez in Spain. Following that there are a further five tests before the start of the season, the Australian Grand Prix in March.