Exclusive interview - Toyotas Timo Glock 07 May 2009
Toyota seem to be on a steep upward curve this season - and with them driver Timo Glock. After his podium in Malaysia, the young German is convinced that the strategic error at the last round in Bahrain was a one-off. In Barcelona this weekend hes targeting not only another front-row grid slot, but also another top-three finish. And the odds seem good
Q: Timo, four races into the season: how would you sum up your performance so far? Are you satisfied, as this season seems to be crucial for Toyota?
Timo Glock: I am pretty satisfied with my performances so far but of course, as a racing driver, you always want more. It has been great to start the season with one of the fastest cars, which has allowed us to fight for the podium in every race, and its fantastic to already have a podium this year. The last race in Bahrain was quite disappointing I would say, because we expected more considering our qualifying performance. But Jarno (Trulli) was on the podium again so it wasnt a bad result for the team.
Q: Jarno in fourth place with 14.5 points and you in fifth with 12 points - do those standings reflect the full potential of the TF109, or where have points been lost?
TG: I think it shows we have one of the fastest cars and we are capable of fighting at the front in every race. But on the other hand I know I personally could have scored more points - dont forget I have got those 12 points even though I started from the pit lane twice. We could have got more points in Bahrain, Im sure of that, but I had a difficult time on the option tyres in the second stint.
Q: After four races you must have a good idea of the potential of the car. You seem to feel very comfortable. Would you say its a title contender?
TG: Its too early to say that. As a team we have had three podiums from four races, including a pole position and fastest lap, which is a big step forward for us compared to last year. But we need to take another step and win races before we can talk about the championship. We are pushing as hard as possible, thats for sure.
Q: After qualifying in Bahrain it looked as if this race could bring the first victory for Toyota - but the race didnt go to plan. You blamed strategy and the tyres for the disappointing result. Was that a one-off situation or is this a deficit that the team has to work on?
TG: This was just an unfortunate situation because the tyres didnt behave exactly as we expected them to. I lost a lot of time on the prime tyre in my second stint because it was really tricky and after that it was impossible to challenge for the podium. But if you look at what happened in Malaysia, when we made the right call on tyres in the rain and finished on the podium, or in China, when I was running last twice but came back to finish seventh, you can see we have got it right more often than not.
Q: Could it have been that the team traded a victory for the front row of the grid - both you and Jarno started the race light?
TG: In the end maybe we didnt need to be light because we had a really big margin in Q3 from the other cars. Its easy to say these things in hindsight but we decided to go for an aggressive strategy because we believed this would give us the best chance overall.
Q: This weeks Spanish Grand Prix is almost a new season start, as all teams will bring substantial upgrades to their cars. What is new on the TF109?
TG: We have some aero upgrades on the car for this race as usual with the first European round of the season, but well have to wait and see how much of a step this is relative to the other cars.
Q: Toyota were one of the three teams with an advantage due to their different approach to the diffuser. Now that all the other teams are expected to upgrade their cars, how long do you expect to retain this advantage before the others catch up?
TG: Its not a magic solution which will give the other teams a few tenths immediately, and maybe they have to compromise on other areas to develop the diffuser. Our car is really competitive this season and I dont see any reason why that should change soon.
Q: We saw only a few cars running with KERS at the first four flyaway races. Whats the situation at Toyota now that we are back in Europe? Youve not raced KERS yet
TG: Well have to wait and see with KERS. I know the team is working hard on it but we only plan to use it if it brings an advantage and, looking at the first four races of the season, that doesnt seem to be the case at the moment.
Q: In previous years all teams would have gone testing before the first European race. Now we have the in-season test ban. How nervous will Friday be with all the upgrades having to be implemented?
TG: Well all be pretty busy on Friday. We have seen over the winter that our expectations from wind tunnel testing are pretty accurate, so for us it wont be nervous - just busy.
Q: What do you expect for this weekend? Could it be the track where everything falls into place for you?
TG: I hope so, but its hard to say before we see what steps the other teams have taken. We have to be optimistic considering how competitive we have been in the first four races, but lets wait and see.