Interview with Mike
November 27, 2004
With preparations for the 2005 world championship well underway at
various test locations around Europe, Technical Director Chassis of
Panasonic Toyota Racing, Mike Gascoyne, talks about what the team
hopes to achieve from the winter test program. The Englishman also
discusses the 2005 Toyota driver line-up, changes to the technical
regulations and the development of the new TF105 race car.
What is Panasonic Toyota Racing's winter testing
The period in the run-up to the new season will be
hectic for all teams, but even more so for Toyota because we have
obviously got two new drivers – Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli. The
first test in Barcelona was mainly about getting both Ralf and Jarno
fully settled into the team. Of course, we were able to bring Jarno
into the race team for the Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix, and it
was beneficial to both parties for him to start work earlier than
expected. I am sure that Ralf will get settled in just as
Does having two new race drivers affect the team's
approach for 2005?
Having the new drivers will not
particularly affect the way we work. We have got a lot of Michelin
tire testing to do because of the change in the tire regulations
which requires us to run on the same tires for a whole race, so we
are running revised casings in preparation for next year. We also
have a lot of engine mileage to do – with the increased mileage
required over two race weekends, we need to make sure next year's
engine is reliable. So Olivier (Panis) has also been testing at Paul
Ricard, putting a lot of miles on the engine and working on next
year's electronics. We won't be running a hybrid car, so the new rear
end will run for the first time when we run the new car.
When can we expect to see the new TF105?
The TF105 is being
finished at the moment, and it should be ready before Christmas. That
means that we will be available to run it as soon as the Christmas
and New Year test ban has been lifted in January. Although we are
introducing the TF105 comparatively early, there will be significant
development on it before the first race of the season. We will have a
totally new aerodynamic package in Melbourne, but we want to run the
new car as soon as possible in order to get it reliable for the
Australian Grand Prix. There is a lot of work to be done on the new
car, but we will also be running the TF104B for a lot of the tire
work in the run-up to the opening race.
Why did Panasonic
Toyota Racing opt for Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher?
Ralf and Jarno are proven race winners and I think they are both very
quick. Jarno is exceptional over one lap, but in his career he has
struggled for consistency in races. However, in the first half of
2004 he did an excellent job before relationships deteriorated for
him at Renault. For his first win at Monaco, he had pole, was
quickest in practically every session and led every lap of the race.
That is quite an achievement!
What about Ralf?
Ralf is also very quick
and he's won several races in his career. Again, there is perhaps
some evidence of a lack of consistency down the years. On some
weekends he seems to dominate his team-mate and is just unbelievable.
At some of the races he has won in the past he has seemed to dominate
the entire weekend, but at other times he seems not to be at that
level. So I think both Ralf and Jarno are drivers who need to be in
the right frame of mind to perform consistently, and a lot of that
has to do with having the right team and the right environment around
them. We have got to make sure that we give them a car with which
they can do their best, and that we create the environment where they
can do that consistently.
What feedback are you expecting from Jarno and
Obviously both Jarno and Ralf can compare the strengths
and weaknesses of our package with the cars they've driven in the
past. We pretty much know where our car is weak in terms of its
aerodynamics, but the drivers can also give input into that. They can
also really help the motivation of the whole team in Cologne. At the
race track, they need to work professionally with the engineers and
mechanics to make sure we get the best not just out of the car but
out of the whole operation over a race or test.
With four drivers on board who raced in 2004,
Toyota has an impressive driver line-up overall. How crucial is that
to next year?
The fact that Jarno and Ralf are supported by
two highly experienced guys like Olivier and Ricardo (Zonta) is
extremely important. With Olivier staying on as test and reserve
driver and Ricardo as the driver of the third car at grands prix, I
think Panasonic Toyota Racing has the most experienced line-up of all
the teams. It means we've got two race drivers absolutely at the top
of their game, proven race winners, and we have got unparalleled
experience in the test drivers with Olivier and Ricardo. That's a
pretty impressive line-up, especially for a team that finished eighth
in the championship, and it should give the whole team a lot of
The FIA has introduced a number of rule changes for the 2005
season. How have they affected the design of the TF105?
are changes in each of the key technical areas for next season, aimed
at reducing the performance of F1 cars. On the chassis side, the
changes are mostly aerodynamic. We have to raise the front wing, move
the rear wing forwards and limit the maximum height of the diffuser -
all of which means we should lose a reasonable amount of downforce
without losing any drag. On the initial running we lost 25 percent of
the car's downforce, but obviously we're working in the wind tunnel
to gain as much of that back as possible.
To what extent
did the late confirmation of 2005 regulations affect the development
of the TF105?
To be honest, the late implementation of
technical changes for 2005 has not been too much of a hindrance to
us. The FIA put forward some suggestions and there was a process we
had to go through in order for them to impose them. But really from
August we were assuming that the regulations we were working to were
accurate, and that's what actually happened. The changes probably
affected us more in terms of this past season's car, rather than the
TF105. When we introduced the TF104B we aimed to keep working on that
until the end of the year, but because of the rule change we chose
not to, and we purely concentrated on the TF105. That meant we didn't
really get significant development on the 104B, so certainly that
hurt us toward the end of last year. But that decision will help us
for next year.
Source Toyota Racing
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