Panasonic Toyota Racing Technical Director Chassis Mike Gascoyne talks of the planning and evolution of the latest Toyota F1 challenger as well as the major changes required ahead of the 2006 season. Here follows the interview.
Interview with Mike Gascoyne
What's new on the car compared with last year?
"The front end is a development of what we did with the TF105B – we very much improved the front potential with that car. And the TF106B will be yet a further development of it. We also have a significantly different rear end lay out. The gearbox is fundamentally the same, but it has reduced weight and it's stiffer. However, we've gone away from the rotary rear damper concept that we've had for the last couple of years to a linear rear damper. We've identified a damping problem with the car over the last couple of years, which we've now put right. When we ran the TF105B all the drivers' comments were that we'd made the front end much, much better, but the car was rear limited – they were just waiting for the rear to settle down. We had the linear rear damper layout coming along, and in testing we saw that the TF106 was a significant improvement. It matches the rear with the front, and produces a more balanced car."
The V8 is some 10cms shorter than the V10. How has that affected the chassis?
"The difference in length has not played such a key role for us. Once we knew we were still qualifying with fuel, we made a firm decision to keep the front face and rear face of the fuel tank in the same place. Based on the data we received from Bridgestone we were predicting to run less forward weight distribution than we were used to. We've actually increased the monocoque length, and kept the gearbox length essentially the same. The V8 also makes the radiator layout slightly easier, and the radiators are smaller as well. The packaging of the exhaust is easier because there are a couple of less pipes around!"
What effect do the different characteristics of the V8 have?
"Obviously V8 vibration levels are significantly increased. We did have initial problems on the dyno, but the engine is mounted differently on the dyno and you can only learn so much. You hold an engine very differently on a dyno compared to a car, and it reacts very differently. We actually got fewer problems in the car that we expected, but it can be the other way round. Until you get it in the car and the drivers have run it, you don't know what's going to start breaking. The advantage we've had is that we've done miles and addressed any failures. Driveability is very good, and the drivers are pleasantly surprised. Luca and his team have done an excellent job. The big difference you will see compared to the V10 is in starts and low-end torque."
How difficult is it to change tyre supplier?
"Bridgestone did a good job to provide us with a lot of information in the short time between the end of the season and the start of winter testing, so we pretty much knew what to expect. We were able to get a balance on the car reasonably quickly, but of course you've got to re-learn the effects of all the set-up changes that you do which affect the tyre. Obviously with a different manufacturer they all do slightly different things. Really that's why we wanted to run the mechanical package for Bahrain in November and December. We didn't want to spend that period learning things that we then had to re-learn because the car was significantly different. We were able to take a measured approach, just working through set-up parameters, just to see their effect and really learn how that tyre reacts. We got a balance on the car pretty quickly, and we were pleasantly surprised."
Apart from the engine, have any rule changes affected the chassis?
"There are some small aerodynamic modifications at the front, and the rear crash has gone up to match the front test. We've elongated the crash structure in line with the increasing size of the rear wing endplates, so we can use that to take the extra crash velocity."