Mission accomplished - Timo Glocks first season with Toyota 11 Nov 2008
A podium finish, 25 points and 10th in the drivers championship - not bad for your first full season of Formula One racing. No wonder that mid-season Niki Lauda was describing Toyotas Timo Glock as the best rookie so far.
Speaking exclusively to Formula1.com, Glock reviews a campaign that saw him become an ever-growing threat to team mate Jarno Trulli and looks ahead to next year, when he believes Toyota can achieve great things
Q: Are you satisfied with your first year as a race driver with the Toyota team?
Timo Glock: I am really happy. To exceed my target of 20 points and finish on the podium in my first full season of Formula One is a great achievement. I have worked well with the engineers, with the mechanics and with Jarno, so I have a very positive feeling in the team.
Q: Looking at your results, it seems you had some initial issues in the first half of the season but then developed into a consistent points scorer
TG: The first four races were quite difficult and I wasnt sure if I could make my target of 20 points. In F1 it is difficult to change the car from one race to another; it takes some time until you get the car working in your direction and that was even tougher because it was my first full season of racing in F1. I had to develop myself a bit as well and that takes a bit of time, but after Canada things turned around for me. I got even more integrated into the team, we developed the car together and we were quite strong. I made a good step at Hockenheim, where our race pace was strong, and from then on I was competitive everywhere.
Q: Looking at the statistics, with just three mechanical retirements all season the TF108 was very reliable. What were the cars issues?
TG: The TF108 has been very competitive pretty much everywhere, but the one issue we had was in cold conditions, when we couldnt get the best out of the tyres. This hurt us in Italy and Belgium in particular. Our reliability has been pretty good, but we aim for 100 percent reliability and we know that we lost points on a few occasions because of technical problems.
Q: After ending the constructors championship fifth - one place up on last year - are there happy faces back at base in Cologne?
TG: During the season it was clear we had a good chance to finish fourth in the constructors championship and that became our target for the final races of the season. We were beaten by Renault, so we are not happy with that aspect of our season, but you will see happy faces in Cologne, firstly because we are always optimistic and secondly because the results this season have been such a significant improvement on 2007. The target was to return to the podium and score a significant number of points. Considering our 2007 results, these were quite high targets, but we achieved them and that is thanks to the hard work of everyone at the team.
Q: Your personal highlight must have been your second place at the Hungarian Grand Prix
TG: Budapest was really special and to finish on the podium in my first full season of Formula One was just great. Of course I hoped to do that, but it was an incredible feeling when I achieved it, so I will always remember that day.
Q: You finished the season eight points behind your team mate. Is that something you can live with?
TG: Jarno is so experienced in Formula One and it was just my first season, so I expected to be playing catch-up in the first few races. The important thing for me is that in the second half of the season we were evenly matched and from Hungary onwards I actually scored more points than him, so I am very pleased. We have worked really well together and have a great relationship, so I think we have helped the team improve quite a lot this season.
Q: You had a brief taste of Formula One competition with Jordan back in 2004, but it must have been different to race for one of the big manufacturer teams
TG: Of course, compared to Jordan it has been a different experience working for Toyota because there is such huge potential at this team. We have a competitive budget and we have a lot of really good people, so I really believe we can achieve great things.
Q: Were you satisfied with the speed of development over the course of the season?
TG: As I said, we hoped to finish fourth in the constructors championship but Renault were really strong at the end of the season. In general, I think our development was pretty good throughout the season, especially when you consider the package we introduced at Magny-Cours. From that moment we moved up a level and we were fighting with the top teams regularly, scoring podiums and a lot of points. We made a good step with our last upgrades towards the end of the season, but so did Renault. And we had a couple of retirements which cost us points.
Q: After the season is always before the next season. What is on yours and the teams agenda in the weeks ahead?
TG: As you say, Formula One never stops so we are already thinking about 2009. The team has been working hard developing the TF109 and I am really excited to see how that turns out. We have some winter testing coming up so there is not a long break between the seasons. But we are pushing as hard as possible, so we wont be relaxing just because we have finished this season.
Q: And after a long season what is Timo Glock planning for his personal recovery program?
TG: I will have a week or so at home. The end of the season is really hectic and I spent a lot of time away from home this year so it will be nice to stay in one place for a while. Then in the middle of November I fly to Japan for the Toyota Motorsport Festival, which should be a lot of fun.