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GP Week : Issue 7
will push this year’s car as long as we can and as hard as we can whilst maintaining a very aggressive development on the ’09 car.” The 2009 car will be a completely new beast for every F1 team. Reduced aerodynamics, slick tyres and the introduction of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recover System), means a mammoth task for everyone. Toyota, however, has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of Frank Dernie. “Frank didn’t really get involved in this year’s car,” Howett divulges. “His first project was to look at the ’09 car. Pascal [Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis] wanted him to come. They have a very good historic relationship; when Pascal was at Michelin, Frank was at various teams and I think it is working very well. He has experience. He’s definitely part of the team and it’s working very well. “I think the team is very strong, but still, you know, we want to become a winning team. The challenge is how to close that gap to the front. “The drivers are doing a very good job at the moment. We have to say Jarno is really delivering in qualifying and everyone except us is probably surprised by his race pace. He’s consistent and fast so we’re very happy. Timo we put him under pressure frankly in a couple of Grands Prix because of problems. He would have definitely got a point in Bahrain but we had a gearbox issue and had to go back onto a backup shift, but give him another couple of Grands Prix and he’ll be very close to Jarno.” What then for 2008? Can the team hope to claim that elusive race win, or will it be a case of building up slowly, improving consistency and then going for an all out assault on 2009? “We have to be realistic. In 2008 we have to get on the podium. If you look at the speed of the Ferraris, winning is going to be fairly difficult but I think as a team you can’t stand back and say ‘We’ve just come to compete.’ We have to set the target very high internally, but realistically the target has to be to continue to score points and try to get on the podium genuinely, not just because of attrition from others.” With a fast and reliable car, two motivated drivers and a team currently riding high on positive results and good momentum, this may yet be the season that Toyota finally announces itself as a serious, consistent and threatening force in Formula 1. 26