Q&A with Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina 17 Jun 2008
Currently fifth in the constructors championship table, 2008 has been something of a mixed season so far for Toyota. As they head to Magny-Cours, team principal Tadashi Yamashina looks back on his first year at the helm
Q: The French Grand Prix marks a year since you became Chairman and team
principal, how has it been?
Tadashi Yamashina: I have enjoyed it very much and I have especially enjoyed getting familiar with all the team members and the different cultures within our team. I know the performance and the team work of all my colleagues is getting better and better. Everyone is very motivated and one of the big jobs for me is to encourage all the people in our team, not only the race team but also the team members back at the factory, in every department. I want to encourage all of them and I am enjoying this job very much.
Q: Is your role exclusively in Formula One?
TY: The main part of my job is Formula One; I would say 90% of my time is focused on this but I must also take care of Japanese motorsport, with Super GT, Formula Nippon and Formula 3. NASCAR in the United States is taken care of by Toyota Racing Development USA.
Q: What is your reaction to the news about Ove Andersson passing away?
TY: This was very sad news. Ove was the first team principal of Panasonic Toyota
Racing and he achieved a great deal with Toyota in rallying, Le Mans and in establishing the Formula One team. It was a big shock to hear about his accident and obviously everyone at the team is very sad.
Q: Has the team changed in the last year?
TY: I think the team has changed and improved. From a technical point of view, everyone at the factory and in the race team has increased car performance and reliability - this is clearly seen from our results. When we set ourselves a target, every engineer and every team member is making a strong effort to achieve it. Everyone is contributing and I am proud of their efforts because we are seeing the results.
Q: Do you enjoy the challenge of Formula One?
TY: I very much enjoy the challenge of competing in Formula One. This job is very different to my previous foreign assignment at Toyota Technical Centre USA because the results are so immediate. We race every two weeks and after every race we must face the consequences, so if the race has not gone well we are disappointed and we have to take action. But road car development takes years, so this is a big change. Luckily I enjoy the challenges we face every day.
Q: Are you confident for the team's future?
TY: Of course I am confident for the future of the team. My goal is for everyone to contribute to increased performance, and for our performance to increase continuously. Every team member must ask themselves constantly how they can increase performance in their role, no matter what their position is. It is my job to achieve this and after a year in my position I am confident we are heading in the right direction. I can see that when we set the right direction, everybody in the team is working together with great determination.
Q: What are your goals for 2008?
TY: We always dream of the centre of the podium and we will never give up but when you look at car performance you can see there is a gap to Ferrari, McLaren and BMW Sauber. Therefore my current target for this year is to continue to close this gap and finish races in the top six and fight for the podium.
Q: Why will you be absent from the French Grand Prix?
TY: I must attend a stockholders meeting of Toyota Motor Corporation. Actually there was a long discussion because I really, really want to be in France. But I was asked to travel to Japan on the weekend to ensure I am present at the stockholders meeting, which is a regular meeting that unfortunately this time clashes with a Grand Prix. I am sorry to miss this race but I will watch everything from Magny-Cours on TV. I will be supporting the team from a distance and calling the team members regularly to find out how we are doing.