The Panasonic Toyota Racing team has unveiled it’s new Formula 1 race car – the TF107 – at Cologne in Germany. Team principal, Tsutomu Tomita, has already announced that Toyota have high hopes for this year, and their goal is to win.
“Our fundamental challenge this year is to get the first victory,” Tomita said. “We announced that a year ago but we failed to succeed in 2006, and therefore we want to repeat that challenge in 2007.”
“I know all the other teams are working very hard, particularly the top three. We have five years experience in F1 but still we are young in comparison with the top teams, therefore we have to be modest about it. But we would like to challenge them. I’m very, very positive about this and I personally think we should attack from round one. Therefore it’s very important to conduct some productive testing during the winter to fully understand the car and the tyres.”
The team are looking forward to a good 2007 season with new arrivals hoping to strengthen the existing team. One new person of note is George Tadashi Yamashina who has recently assumed the role of Vice Chairman of Toyota Motorsport. It is hoped that Yamashina’s skills will compliment those of Tomita and John Howett, the president.
Yamashina himself believes it will be a strong management triangle: “Tomita-san, John and myself are like three arrows in the Japanese saying – one arrow breaks easily, two is harder to break and with three arrows you cannot break them,” he explained. “Of course I am excited by the task. Whenever I get an assignment, no matter how hard the challenge is, I am happy. That is my attitude. The most important target to aim for this season is the first victory for Toyota in Formula 1. We want to be on the top step of the podium. We have improved in all areas, aerodynamics, suspension and gear change.”
Toyota finished a good fourth in the Formula 1 constructor’s championship in 2005, however 2006 was a fairly dismal year; Toyota finished 6th having gained less than half the points they won in 2005. The team are hoping that 2007 will see them bounce back with the TF107 car.
Howett said “Our ambition has always been to win – that to me is why we are here and why we are racing. I think we built a fairly good platform in 2005, and last year we didn’t move forward sufficiently from that platform. I think in terms of speed we had the third quickest package on the grid. Looking at race pace and qualifying pace, we were closing the gap on Renault towards the end of the season, but Ferrari was still in front. Although the results didn’t show it, I think we are now capable of running with the top teams in terms of speed.”