Dan Lawrence assesses Toyota’s hopes of breaking out of the mid-field in 2009.
After Toyota s dreadful 2007 season which saw the team finish 6th place in the constructors table with an embarrassing 13 points, 2008 heralded a recovery in the team s fortunes seeing them rise to 5th place with a well earned 56 points. Both team veteran Jarno Trulli and newcomer Timo Glock earned podium positions, with the highlight of Toyota s season being the magnificent 2nd place that Glock achieved at the Hungarian Grand Prix. In 2008 the team also maintained an average pace that was only 0.5 seconds off the leaders, improving on their 1.0 second deficit of 2007. 2009 may well be the season where Toyota could finally realise their worth and push to be among the top 4 teams in the constructor s championship.
The new and extensive technical rule changes for 2009 have left front runners such as Ferrari with a sense of uncertainty about the upcoming season. Shortly after the unveiling of the F60, Felipe Massa had these words to say about the new season: “This is the beginning of a different cycle in Formula One. It will not be an easy experience for sure.â€1 This sort of trepidation emanating from the runner up in last seasons World Championship, should serve as encouragement for Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock who will want to make life uncomfortable for last season s leading pack.
Toyota s two drivers, while having dissimilar racing styles and separated by a substantial age gap, will both have comparable aims for next season. The duo of Trulli the veteran and Glock the newcomer finished 9th and 10th respectively last season, with Trulli earning 31 points and Glock scoring 25. Jarno Trulli made his 2009 aim very clear in an interview with the Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport, “I can feel it: 2009 will be the year of my first victory with Toyota.â€2 As well as aiming for a maiden victory with Toyota, Trulli will be hoping to score consistently throughout the season. It is noticeable that Trulli in the last two world championships has scored the majority of his points at the start of the season before fading away during the latter half of the year.
The inverse is true of Timo Glock who suffered a very disappointing start to his season, scoring just 5 points in the first 10 races. However, Glock then earned an impressive 20 points in his last 8 races with the catalyst to his success being the superb 2nd place he achieved at Hungary. Glock addressed this problem in a recent interview: “Our problem has been consistency, but I hope we can start to turn that around starting now.”3
Both Trulli and Glock will be aiming high and looking to be ranked among the top 8 drivers by the end of the 2009 season. Both will need to improve on their ability to consistently earn point scoring positions to achieve this goal. If they do 2009 could be the season where Toyota finally show the world of Formula 1 their true potential.