Toyota targeting top six at Melbourne
Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to the opening round of the 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Championship in optimistic mood and with a new driver line-up eager to get the racing season underway. GP2 champion Timo Glock has joined Jarno Trulli behind the wheel of the promising new TF108, which arrives in Australia with the updated specification tested so encouragingly in Barcelona last month.
This updated package includes revised bodywork as well as other mechanical improvements. For Jarno, this weekend marks his 12th Australian Grand Prix while Timo will line up on the Albert Park grid for the first time, although he does have experience of the Melbourne streets, having completed Friday practice in 2004. After all the hard work from the team and the drivers to get ready for the racing season, Toyota is excited and optimistic, with a strong points finish the clear target for the weekend.
Jarno Trulli: “I am always excited by the start of a new season and this year I am probably more motivated than ever. Testing has gone well with the new car; we have made good progress and we know the right direction to work in so I am optimistic. This year’s car is a big improvement; it is very different to the TF107 and we have a lot of potential to continue the improvement we have seen in testing. I really enjoy visiting Australia and Melbourne in particular so I am looking forward to good weather and another enthusiastic crowd, as we always seem to get at Albert Park. The circuit isn’t the most challenging but it’s nice to drive and I hope we can be competitive. I am totally focused on getting a strong result this weekend and I think we have a good chance to score points.”
Timo Glock: “The Australian Grand Prix will be my race debut for Toyota so I am very excited. The Albert Park track is a very picturesque street circuit but it is not the most challenging circuit on the calendar for a driver. It’s a quite an unusual track because it is only used for the Australian Grand Prix; there are no other motorsport meetings there during the year. This means that every time we go there it is a green track, so there is no grip at all to start with, and that makes it sometimes quite difficult to find the right direction in terms of the set-up. But this is the same for everyone and I have an experienced team-mate in Jarno so that should help me a little bit. The Australian fans are always very enthusiastic so I am looking forward to racing in front of them. My goal for the year is to consistently fight for the points and I hope to make a strong start to the season in Melbourne.”
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: “When you are in this business because of your passion for motorsport you cannot fail to be excited when the first race is coming around, so we are all looking forward to Australia. Generally Melbourne is a very specific track and not totally representative of an average Formula 1 circuit. The tarmac is very smooth which favours a lack of warm-up and lack of bite from the tyres and we have to cope with that to balance the car. It is a given, a fact in Melbourne, and we have to deal with it. We are optimistic for this weekend, particularly because the second half of winter testing went well and the estimated window of competitiveness has been clearly improving since the tests in Bahrain. So we are definitely hopeful and willing to fight close to the front. Our goal has to be finishing in the points and fighting for the top six. Based on the facts in front of us it is a realistic target.”