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Exclusive Timo Glock Q&A: We want points, podiums and more 12 Mar 2009

Timo Glock (GER) Toyota. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 10 March 2009. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota F1 TF109 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF109. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday 19 February 2009. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota F1 TF109 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Timo Glock (GER) Toyota F1 TF109 crashes into the gravel trap Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain.

At test sessions there are always some wildcard times that cause a stir. But over the winter some of the most consistently quick laps have come from Toyota, who finished 2008 fifth in the standings. It’s no surprise then that Timo Glock is very optimistic as he looks ahead to the start of the new season. And with reliability bound to be a key factor this year, the Japanese team’s excellent record in that department may mean Glock is right to set himself some high targets…

Q: Timo, last week’s Jerez test was a real bonanza for you, as you clocked the fastest time on two days, while here in Barcelona the performance seems consistently positive. Is the TF109 really as good as it seems?
Timo Glock:
I hope so! So far the car seems very promising, but in the end we still don’t know exactly where we are compared with the other teams because it’s all a bit mixed up if you look at the time sheets. Definitely we are very optimistic for the season and we have set ourselves pretty high targets.

Q: After last week many predicted that as well as the usual suspects for podiums, Toyota could be one of the surprises this season. Do you share that view?
TG:
That is our target, for sure. I hope we are fighting for the podium in Australia. In pre-season testing we have looked competitive so we have to be optimistic. My feeling is better this year compared to last year, partly because of the slick tyres but also because the car just feels better. We want to be consistently in the points and finishing on the podium more often - and hopefully on the middle step of the podium!

Q: The winter weather has not been ideal for testing a new car, and even Toyota’s move to Bahrain did not turn out as well as had been anticipated. Do you feel that for all the teams there is a shortfall in development because of the reduced mileage?
TG:
As you say, it is the same for all teams. We have lost some time due to the weather conditions in Portimao, Bahrain and Jerez, but we have also done a lot of positive work. For example, when the weather improved in Bahrain we did a huge number of laps and made a lot of progress on the car. In the end, Bahrain was a positive test for us, even considering the weather on the first days. You can never control the weather, but at least it’s the same for everyone.

Q: More than ever, reliability seems to be a key factor to success, as the engine has to last three races. Toyota had a very high level of reliability with the 2008 car, do you think you have kept the standard as high this season?
TG:
So far we have had no big problems so I am confident about our reliability. In Bahrain I was a bit unlucky because we had a hydraulic problem which cost us nearly half a day, but in general we haven’t had any major problems. Of course, the team aims for a 100 percent reliability record so they are always working hard to improve, even after quite a reliable season in 2008.

Q: It’s going to be your second season with the team, does that give you a little bit more room to be relaxed? Especially considering you equalled your team mate Jarno Trulli’s performance last year?
TG:
I am looking forward to my second season with Toyota because I have more experience. I wouldn’t say I can relax now after my good season in 2008, because I want to make another step this year so I am pushing really hard. I was really satisfied with my performances in the second half of last season and it was good to be on a similar performance level to Jarno. Sometimes I was quicker, sometimes he was quicker, but we were pretty close all the time. We get on well together and I think we have pretty similar characters. I feel more comfortable within the team in general because we have all spent a lot of time working together now, so that is easier. And the new car is more in my direction so testing has been better compared to last year.

Q: Team president John Howett has said that this season will be crucial for the future of the team…
TG:
For me the important thing is to focus on preparing for the season, so I don’t worry about the other stuff. We want to win this year, that’s clear, and we will all be disappointed if we’re not fighting to win our first Grand Prix.

Q: Last time we met we spoke about KERS, but you were not able to judge it because you had done very little running with it. What is your feeling now?
TG:
Nothing has changed. Kamui (Kobayashi) tested KERS in Portimao in January but since then the team has been working on it in the factory, so I still haven’t driven with KERS.

Q: What is your focus for this test? Are there any shortcomings that need to be eliminated before Melbourne?
TG:
I don’t think we have any shortcomings, this new car seems pretty sorted and feels good. But we have some new aero parts on the car for this test, more like what we will use in Australia, so we need to test those. Then we are always just working to get more performance by improving our set-ups and understanding more about the slick tyres, that kind of thing.

Q: Now that all teams are testing, who in your view is the driver/team combination to beat?
TG:
Ferrari and McLaren won the championships last year and they are usually strong but it’s difficult to tell exactly who will be the fastest because you really can’t be sure in testing. Maybe there will be a surprise when we get to Australia…