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GP Week : Issue 7
reason to panic. “I think from the Bahrain test Jarno was extremely enthusiastic, so I think the only thing you can say is that the intention is still to become a winning team and the gap from where we are to the front is still fairly large. So that’s the main focus from our side.” With the top three teams already involved in a scrap for those extra tenths of a second, catching them is a tough prospect for any team. But as testing kicked off, Howett remained quietly confident in the abilities of Toyota. “It depends how much performance we can put on the car and whether we can work harder and smarter than the competition. I think that middle pack is fairly tightly compressed, so I think between ourselves, Red Bull and Williams it depends on how much added performance we can get race by race. We’re confident, the development direction is good. I think race by race it may change but overall we should be able to maintain that position.” “We’ve got quite a few items to test here, and certainly for Turkey we have a fairly significant upgrade as well, so we’re fairly confident that we can at least maintain that position.” Just as Howett was divulging his team’s projected development plan for 2008 however, Honda Team Principal Ross Brawn was announcing that after Barcelona, his team would be concentrating all their efforts on 2009. With new regulations meaning an almost total re-design of aerodynamics, there seemed, to him, little point in developing a car that wasn’t going to win a race. So what of Toyota? Would it not make sense for the team, as one of the current quickest after the top three, to simply concentrate fully on 2009 and get the jump on the big three? “I think if you want to become a great Grand Prix team you’ve got to be able to develop this year’s car and also next year’s car,” Howett explains. “The issue obviously is that the aero package for next year is completely different, but I think we feel that we can manage to put performance onto this year’s car and also still maintain a very aggressive development direction for next year’s car. I think we will still have upgrades on this year’s car at as many Grands Prix as possible, and I still remain confident we can do a good job on next year’s car.” What then of the possibility of the likes of Honda getting a jump on Toyota by doing just the opposite? “There is a risk but it is, I think, a balanced risk certainly. Overall we F1 insight >> 25