Q&A: Glock on 2009, KERS and the TF109s looks 15 Jan 2009
Last season Toyotas Timo Glock wowed the paddock with a debut season that saw him take second place at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Unfortunately for Glock his 2008 will be forever linked to the last lap of the season-closing Brazilian race when Lewis Hamilton overtook him to take the title.
After his winter break, however, the German has returned refreshed and ready for 2009. And speaking at the launch of Toyota's new car at the teams Cologne base, its clears hes confident the TF109 is good enough to take him all the way to the top step of the podium
Q: Your team mate Jarno Trulli has stated it would be a dream to win a race this year for Toyota. Youd like to beat him to that, wouldnt you?
TG: To win is the target for me. It would be a dream for me to win it, but you have to think about it as a team as well.
Q: How much pressure do you think there is on the team to deliver that win? Its been a target since day one
TG: The pressure is on every year - its not easy in Formula One. I had a good solid first year and it was also a solid 2008 for Toyota. We want to keep going and move to the next step. The pressure is always there. At the moment its a difficult situation for all the teams and the pressure may be a little bit higher, but Toyota can cope. We have to do a concentrated and focused job. We must all pull in one direction. Ive already seen over the last year that everyone is really motivated to see that we go in the right direction, and this winter everyone has been really motivated when Ive been to Cologne. Im quite hopeful for 2009. The question mark at the moment is where we are, and where all the other guys are. We will have to wait and see, but I think itll be an interesting upcoming season.
Q: What about your development as a driver last year?
TG: At the beginning of the year I tried to explain to everyone that the first races would be difficult. The car definitely was, for my driving style, difficult to drive. The car was more suited to Jarno at the beginning. Over the first tests and races I started to understand how the car worked, how the team worked, and I got an understanding with the engineers. And then everything developed quite well. I improved quite a lot from Canada on. It was important to improve from race to race and thats what we did.
Q: After you heard about Honda pulling out, what were your first feelings?
TG: I was pretty shocked like everyone else. I had a phone call the night before from a couple of guys in GP2, who were testing in Dubai, who asked if Id heard anything about Honda pulling out and I said no, and then the next day I saw it in the press. And it was quite shocking news. As I said before its not an easy situation but the point is, from now on, everyone has to pull in one direction, the teams, the FIA, and everyone else, to survive in Formula One.
Q: At the last race of last year, Lewis went past you to win the title. In Australia, are you going to be trying to stay ahead of him?
TG: Brazil was not an easy race, well lets say the days and weeks after werent easy. In the race we did everything right. But after, it wasnt easy, as a lot of people didnt really understand what happened in the race. When I watched the race after, a lot of the German commentators asked why did Timo let Hamilton past?, and there was a lot of negative reaction. But in the end the target is definitely to be in front of Lewis and McLaren.
Q: Was it an advantage for Toyota to test alone in Bahrain in December?
TG: It was a good decision from us. In Spain, in Jerez, the weather was windy and wet, while we had pretty stable conditions. We could do a lot of mileage with the new parts, including the new tyres, aero parts, as well as putting mileage on the gearbox and engine. We learned a couple of things for the 2009 car.
Q: What is your reaction to the new rules?
TG: As for the new rules, and going back to slicks, I feel pretty good. Im used to slick tyres from GP2 and all the other categories I raced in before. And already Ive had a better feeling and better feedback with the slick tyres. The grooved tyres were difficult to understand and they work in a pretty small window. With slicks tyres it is already much better. We have to wait and see how it will be with the complete 2009 car. But the first impressions were not too bad and hopefully the new rules will make it easier to overtake in Formula One, which will make it better for the fans.
Q: How much will your years experience of Formula One racing help you adjust to the new requirements of the new car?
TG: It will definitely be easier this year. When I remember the first couple of times I was in the factory in Cologne and when I come now, its much easier, much better. The engineers know now what I need, and they can develop and understand my direction and my feeling for the car more.
Q: You only used grooved tyres for one year, will your comparatively recent experience with slicks help you, and the other younger drivers, in 2009?
TG: I don't think so. The point is, as drivers, we know what we have do behind the steering wheel. Going back to slicks is a little bit easier than going from slicks to grooved tyres, because they are quite difficult to understand. Throughout your driving experience, from karts up to GP2, youre on slicks and then suddenly you had to go on to grooved tyres for Formula One. Switching to a tyre which is already easier to understand means no one will have a problem.
Q: Theres no testing during the season. Will you be able to use Fridays and Saturday practices for that instead?
TG: This will be tricky because the point is when you go testing you have more stable track conditions in terms of the track rubbering in. When you go for a race weekend, on the Friday the track development is quite quick. So for example you bring new parts and you want to test them, but the track is changing every 10 to 15 minutes. That makes it quite tricky to do proper development. It will be difficult to develop the car. It will be really important to not have any trouble in the testing before the first race, and to not have any technical problems that will stop the car running - so you can do as much development as possible before the first race.
Q: Theres not that much time anyway to do extra work at the races?
TG: Yeah, thats the point. You have a pretty standard Friday normally where you do some set-up work to make the car ready for qualifying and the race. So it will be difficult to develop the car over a race weekend. You can try different bits of aero work, but the rest will be quite tricky.
Q: What can you tell us about using KERS?
TG: So far we haven't decided for the first race what we will do in terms of KERS. It is running in a pretty positive way in the factory and when we'll put it in the car for the first time has not been decided yet. In the end, the positive side is that we are flexible with it. We can use it or not use it. But I am sure we are going in the right direction at the moment. When we use it, we have to make sure it is safe and gives us an advantage.
Q: Are you concerned about using it?
TG: What the other teams are doing is difficult to say. But for me, my personal view is that I have a couple of questions. There are some big question marks. But it would be nice for the driver to have some extra power, to be more flexible for overtaking. And it may make life easier for the driver, but the question mark about whether it is an advantage at the moment is not clear. So that is what we have to wait for.
Q: Whats your opinion of the look of the new Toyota?
TG: The first pictures of the cars with the new front wing and rear wing were quite difficult to accept. When you look at the cars from the last two or three years, they were sorted out in an aerodynamic way. For the new car, first of all you have to deal with the big front wing and the small rear wing, it looks a bit strange. But when all the cars are on the grid in Australia, everyone will get used to it as all the cars will look pretty similar. The regulations are pretty tight, so there isn't room for many differences.