Great results will be the icing on the cake - Howett

By on

Just like all the other members of the team, Toyota's President, John Howett, is very excited about the new 2008 car, the TF108. The main goal of the team is to make a significant improvement compared to last year.

John Howett What are your goals for 2008?

"Firstly we have to perform significantly better than in 2007. As a team our ultimate objective is to win, that is the only reason we exist. I believe we have the hardware, we have the resources, as all the top teams do, we simply have to keep pushing to improve the total package and the performance and results will come. Clearly the car is improving, I think, dramatically and continually, but so are the other cars. It is therefore the relative rate of performance gain that is absolutely critical. We have to work harder and smarter than our competitors."

How has the team approached development of the TF108?

"The development has been remorseless, which it has to be because of the competitive pressure of Formula 1. The key issue has been to identify the major elements which contribute to performance enhancement and put more resources into those areas. We have got a much better understanding of specific areas, such as aerodynamics, which contribute more to performance and therefore we are utilising our resources in developing those areas. As a result we look in good shape for 2008, there is no question about that but the hard work continues all the time."

How motivated is the team?

"We have a workforce here which is very loyal, they work extremely hard and whenever we ask for more they deliver even more. In the end anybody working in Formula 1 should appreciate the opportunity to work in this sport. We have a highly motivated, hungry team. Great results will be the icing on the cake but the challenge and the disappointments in Formula 1 make the pleasure of success even greater."

How has the team grown and improved in the past year?

"I don’t think we have grown we have simply reinforced the existing team. Our total capacity is roughly the same as last year but we have continued to reinforce and improve facilities and know-how. The big focus from our side has been aerodynamics but at the same time performance has been squeezed out of every part of the package, including the engine and the power train, particularly in relation to the change to a standard ECU and the four-race gearbox."

Is it harder as a relatively new team to achieve success?

"Historically the winning teams are those which have been in place a long time, that is quite clear. It tends to take time to get the right people in the right place and all acting together as a unit, so building any organisation does take a degree of time. But we do not use this as an excuse."

How important is the Toyota Way to the team?

"People always think of it as kaizen and continuous improvement but that is just one element. It is much more than improving inch by inch because it also encourages innovation. By questioning everything you do and seeking a way to do it better, you can build and innovate. That is also Toyota’s psyche because Toyota has extremely advanced technology and processes in its products and in its production facilities. I still believe people don’t truly understand Toyota’s great challenging spirit. In Formula 1 it is not just a question of winning and buying success - it is about doing it Toyota’s way, by developing a team from the ground up using a more open structure of evaluation, of seeking to exploit every opportunity and learning from the total opportunity. Our approach is different and still not quite understood by the outside world. This challenging spirit is an aspect of Toyota which is not always recognised, understood or appreciated – but I hope through Formula 1 it will be better appreciated."

What was the problem in 2007?

"My feeling is sometimes the car has been more competitive than the results show. Our performance has been variable and one issue has been the start because if you don’t finish the first lap as you qualified you tend to race in that position. The car also has to be quicker in relative terms to our competitors and we need to ensure we have no reliability issues, but clearly one of the big priorities for 2008 is to improve the start performance."

What are your feelings about signing Timo Glock?

"I think his record in GP2 stands for itself. He had an extremely good second half of 2006 on his return to European racing, when he matched in many ways and was very competitive with Lewis Hamilton. Last year he completely dominated the season despite a significant number of technical failures. He is used to driving a car without traction control, which will be an advantage this year due to the new regulations. I also believe he has mental strength as a result of his experience in Champ Car, which is a different type of racing. In my view, he is young, hungry, has a good technical understanding and
his performance last year was outstanding. We are looking forward to seeing what he brings to the team."

And your thoughts on Kamui Kobayashi joining as third driver?

"He is even younger and even hungrier! He has a very good record in racing to date. He is a very talented driver and clearly for us it is good to bring him into our team to start to integrate him. The in-season testing restrictions give an opportunity to do that and we are happy to work with Kamui."