Exclusive interview - Toyotas Timo Glock 16 Apr 2008
2008 might be a crucial year for Toyota. The Japanese team are in their seventh season of Formula One racing and with few stand-out results on their report card, the squad are under pressure to perform and finally live up to their potential.
We caught up with Toyota newcomer Timo Glock at this weeks Barcelona test to talk about their improved 08 form, about the inevitable new aero package, and about how life differs from his previous F1 experience with Jordan
Q: Timo, you have three races under your belt for your new employer Toyota. Are you satisfied with the results?
Timo Glock: Well, the first three races were quite okay. Our qualifying in Australia was fantastic, even if the race let us down a bit, but to start the season with Q3 was very encouraging. We were a bit unlucky in Malaysia, but Bahrain looked pretty good till a clutch problem hit us. So the overall feeling is very positive.
Q: You replaced a well-known Formula One figure when you took over from Ralf Schumacher. The team must be under pressure for better results. Do you feel that too?
TG: No, there is no pressure on me. Its all about doing a good job. The improvements since last year are quite significant so the outlook is promising. And regarding the replacement - this is normal in the business of Formula One - drivers come and drivers go! Its no big deal.
Q: How would you judge the TF108? In qualifying the car seems to have the pace but there have been some teething problems, like Jarno Trullis battery issue in Melbourne and your gearbox problem in Bahrain
TG: The TF108, which by the way I have helped to develop, is significantly different to last years car and it has shown that it has the potential to close the gap to the frontrunner teams - if we continue to develop in the right direction. The battery problem is eliminated now and a gearbox problem comes, what, every 500 races, so we have a long way to go until it hits us again. But when speaking of problems these two issues were the only hitches during the winter so with those solved we should be well set this season.
Q: Jarno said that with Ralf gone the car feels much better to drive, as before the set-up was based predominantly on Ralfs driving style, whereas now it is based on his. What does that mean for you? Do you suffer?
TG: At the beginning it was a bit tricky as there were two or three things that did not match a hundred percent with my driving style. So at the moment I still might be a little behind Jarno. But I feel much more comfortable now after the race in Bahrain so there shouldnt be any problem for the next race. And suffer? No.
Q: New aero package seems to be the magic phrase at this test. Toyota are amongst those running with some new parts. What is your feedback so far?
TG: My two test days so far have been very positive and I am convinced that it will make a difference at next weeks race. Sure we have to evaluate the data in depth over the next few days but it felt good. Where this upgrade puts us in the pecking order we will have to wait to see - everybody is working on the aero side - not just us.
Q: Toyota seem to be the best of the rest behind the three top teams - Ferrari, McLaren and BMW - when it comes to speed, even if Williams are ahead in the standings. Can this aero upgrade consolidate your number-four ranking?
TG: Hopefully. But to draw conclusions at tests in regards to other teams is always very difficult as you never know who is running on slicks, who has a big fuel load or who is almost empty. That we have shown a very competitive pace in the first three races nobody probably would have expected after the pre-season tests. So let us wait and see where we find ourselves when the chequered flag goes down in Barcelona next week.
Q: You had a taste of Formula One racing in 2004 with four outings for Jordan. It was a small team, with something of a rock and roll reputation, while Toyota are a manufacturer team with a huge parent company in the background. The culture must be completely different - how do you cope with that?
TG: You simply cannot compare. Jordan was a private team with, at times, financial deficiencies. Toyota is a team with a magnitude of resources and the security that development will be pushed forward. I feel very much at home already, not only because the team is based in Germany but because of the spirit to make it a success.
Q: Based on your test so far, what are your expectations for next weeks race? Will you make it into Q3?
TG: I am no soothsayer so you will have to wait. But my gut feeling is very good.