Interview with Toyota's
March 29, 2004
Toyota's Luca Marmorini, engine technical director, looks ahead to
the inaugural grand prix in the Kingdom of Bahrain and gives his
views on the season so far...
Q: Luca, what are your thoughts on the F1 race in Bahrain?
Luca Marmorini: I think, alongside the race in China later this
season, the Grand Prix of Bahrain is a great opportunity for F1 and
undoubtedly offers all teams and drivers one of the biggest
challenges of the year. For possibly the first time, Toyota can enter
the weekend in the same situation as everyone else. We have no data
from the track at all and we have to find other ways in which to
prepare ourselves as well as possible before we can hit the track on
Q: From the engine point of view, how has Toyota prepared for Bahrain?
LM: Theoretically, we can simulate any track back at the factory
in Cologne, even if we haven't been there and that is precisely what
we have tried to do for Bahrain. We use vehicle simulation tools,
which can already give a reasonably accurate indication of how the
engine will be react at any circuit, for example in terms of revs,
wide open throttle load, etc. How the driver will use the engine
during the weekend is something we cannot predict. We also have
environmental uncertainties, which in Bahrain will be more widespread
than at other track; we have the possibility of a wide range of
ambient and track temperatures, as well as the likelihood of sand
blowing onto the track. We are doing our best to predict the worst
scenario, but in my experience, our prediction is never 100 per cent
accurate. Having said that, I believe we will have collected enough
data to be ready to get started promptly on Friday morning.
Q: What simulation processes take place in the factory?
LM: Normally, if you have a plan for a track, you are able to
simulate what a car would do. This takes into account an educated
guess of the set-up of the car from our race engineers. We can also
simulate a bit with the tyres, and based on this, you can apply a
cycle on the transient engine dyno to see how the engine reacts. We
actually don't have to simulate each race track to test reliability
because we have certain circuits - like the old Hockenheimring -
which are particularly aggressive on the engine, so we prefer to do
general reliability tests based on what we already know. Of course,
we have to be ready for any driveability problems that may occur at
the last minute and be prepared to support the team on any concerns
that arise during the race weekend at any point around the
Q: Toyota has had to learn most F1 tracks from scratch in recent
years. Do you think that Toyota will gain an advantage over its
rivals in Bahrain this weekend?
LM: I would like to think that because Toyota has had to learn
all F1 tracks in the last few years, we could have a practical
advantage in terms of learning the track quickly. However, we should
never forget that experience counts for a lot when you have to adapt
to new conditions, so the more experienced teams may also gain an
advantage in this way.
Q: Will Ricardo Zonta's role as third driver be even more crucial in
LM: I think that Ricardo's job is always very important. We are
able to let him run freely in very similar conditions to those we
need to run in the race. More importantly, we can conserve the engine
life or car reliability on both race cars by focussing on Ricardo's
car for the race configuration. Obviously, having the third car is
beneficial for our Michelin tyre selection, but in Bahrain we will
also be able to use Ricardo to check everything is working on the
engine side, to spot any problems early in the weekend and to rectify
anything before qualifying. There is always something to do at the
last moment, no matter how much preparation you have done, and having
the third car at our disposal is good opportunity last chance to test
unplanned things with a bit of freedom.
Q: On a general note, what is your impression of the season so far?
LM: The first races marked the introduction of the new engine
regulations and I have to admit I am quite pleased with the level of
reliability we have achieved so far. In the pre-season testing we
were very focussed on completing a race weekend mileage and I think
we can be proud of the job we have done. Actually, the whole
engine/chassis package has proved to be extremely reliable, but the
actual performance still needs some work. A lot of things have
already been put in place and development is ongoing, so the
improvements will come.
Q: Does Toyota impose any restrictions on the engine during the race
LM: We normally have a pre-planned strategy for each race weekend
to avoid using too much engine life on Fridays. We have the advantage
of running the third car in Friday practice, so we usually we have
some limitation on the race cars on the first day. For Saturday and
Sunday, though, we have a constant engine usage apart from the option
we give to the driver to increase the revs slightly in the qualifying
Q: Now the engine regulations have been in place for two races, how
do you think the one engine-per-weekend rule is working?
LM: I think that the new engine regulations have worked very well
from a technical point of view and have ultimately had no negative
influence on the show, which is important. There is still some
confusion about engine changes after qualifying, or shall I say
before the race, but I think that a suitable agreement has to be made
on this matter in due course.
Q: How much performance is lost throughout the weekend?
LM: One of the most important criteria we have when developing a
state-of-the-art F1 V10 engine is to have no long-term drop in
performance. It is inevitable that after around 700 kilometres, there
is a slight reduction in performance level, but it is our job to
limit this drop to the minimum possible, otherwise we would end up
with an engine at the end of the race with completely incorrect gear
ratios. With the modified rules for 2004, when we speak about the
mileage of an engine, it means the mileage for which an engine has a
stable level of performance, in terms of oil consumption, fuel
Q: How will the RVX-04 develop during the season?
LM: We have several steps of the RVX-04 planned during the course
of the year. We have not defined a certain number of strategies, but
we are working in several areas. One of the first priorities is a
reduction in weight, as well as improvement in performance. There is
additionally a more sophisticated strategy to improve the use of the
engine during the race weekend. These changes will be implemented
shortly, but we have nothing special for any particular race. In
parallel to the development of the chassis, the engine department is
giving its contributions in direct relation to increasing the car's
competitiveness, but also to future repackaging, lowering the centre
of gravity and a weight reduction of the TF104 race car as a
Q: Has work already begun on the RVX-05?
LM: Design of the RVX-05 already started at the end of 2003 and
the new Toyota F1 engine should be ready for the testbench around
July. We are still working on the shorter lead-time parts and this is
an ongoing process. We hope to run the new model on the dyno later in
the year to get as much mileage on it as possible, but ideally we
will run it in a car at tests before the season is finished. In
theory, it should be ready to be fitted in a car by September, but we
will investigate the feasibility of this later in the year.
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