Q&A with Toyotas Pascal Vasselon 07 May 2008
Jarno Trullis strong performance at the last round in Spain has put Toyota in buoyant mood ahead of this weekends Turkish Grand Prix. And with yet more developments to be added to the TF108 in Istanbul, the Japanese teams senior general chassis manager, Pascal Vasselon, is confident of another step forward
Q: Looking ahead to Turkey, what demands does the Istanbul track place on the car?
Pascal Vasselon: Turkey is an average circuit for most of the parameters - brakes, downforce and so on. But the special factor you have in Turkey is turn eight, the long left-hander. This is a key corner and simply the most demanding of the season, which means it has a lot of consequences in terms of car balance and tyre usage. You can really say that Turkey is all about turn eight; it is one of the very few circuits where one corner is so significant. You have to make sure your package can handle turn eight and this drives tyre selection for example.
Q: The Turkish Grand Prix is held earlier this year; will the lower temperatures have an affect?
PV: Well, the temperatures will be a bit lower than in previous years, when it was particularly hot, but we can expect conditions nevertheless to be similar to those in Barcelona so it is not likely to have much of an impact. Two areas where it will be noticeable are tyre internal temperatures and engine cooling because Turkey was one of the demanding races of the season in that sense when the race was held in August.
Q: What are your expectations for this race?
PV: We have seen over the first four races that our car is competitive and able to challenge for the top six. It was unfortunate that a mix-up cost Jarno sixth in Spain but it was encouraging to again be fighting in that position. So the goal for this weekend clearly has to be a strong points finish, hopefully with both cars. Timo (Glock) has shown good performance potential so far this season but his good work has not been rewarded with results so we expect his luck to change.
Q: Are there any technical developments coming for the Turkish Grand Prix?
PV: We have another quite significant upgrade to the package which will be available and we expect this to bring a performance improvement. It is part of the same development process which resulted in the Barcelona upgrade. These improvements were not specifically planned for Turkey but this is the earliest opportunity to introduce them.
Q: So this isn't a new package as such?
PV: The definition of a new package is quite grey I would say. At the beginning of the season it is difficult to update the car much during the flyaway races, because of the logistics and the lack of tests at that time, so most of our upgrades are introduced in Barcelona, the first European race. After the Barcelona package, the aerodynamic evolution is continuous so when you validate an improvement or a combination of improvements you put it on the car as soon as possible. All our aerodynamic development which concerns the baseline package is continuous; we set ourselves targets which we aim to achieve during the course of the year but any improvement we have goes to the race track as soon as we believe it will work.
Q: When are new packages developed?
PV: We organise event-specific packages for races that have unusual characteristics. For example we have a different package for Monaco or for Monza because these tracks are at opposite extremes of the downforce spectrum, so they require new front and rear wings, bodywork etc, targeting very different efficiency levels. Only when a track requires specific characteristics from the car do we have a package with a precise deadline for a specific event.
Q: How do you make sure ongoing individual developments work together to improve the whole package?
PV: You always have to consider the interaction of the parts you are developing; and it is really one of the basic demands we put on our aerodynamic development process to guarantee the coherence of our successive evolutions. So it is a kind of cascading effect of development which continues all through the year.
Q: How do you assess the Barcelona upgrades?
PV: The upgrades we brought to Barcelona definitely were a step forward. Jarno's performance in the race was quite strong but we had higher expectations so we are back at work to fully optimise this package.