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Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’

Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull RB5 at Jerez

Tuesday saw the latest pre-season tests begin with Toyota, Ferrari and BMW moving to Bahrain in the hope to avoid rain, and Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Williams, McLaren and Renault sticking in Spain. Sebastien Buemi added to his huge amount of mileage in last year’s Toro Rosso, and finished top at Jerez with his 3 second advantage, whilst things were a whole lot closer in the desert.

Fellow Seb, this one named Vettel, was busy giving the Red Bull RB5 it’s first few runs after the car was launched earlier that morning.  He set the fastest time of all the ’09 contenders before he was forced out of the car early due to a gearbox problem. Nico Hulkenburg was a busy man as he put the Williams Fw31 just three tenths behind Vettel’s shiny new Red Bull. Heikki Kovalainen put his McLaren half a second ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr’s Renault, with rain only making a brief interruption in the day’s running.

Meanwhile at Bahrain, Timo Glock put Toyota’s TF109 on top, just 0.1 seconds ahead of Felipe Massa and the F60, who was in turn just 0.1 seconds ahead of Robert Kubica and the F1.09.

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TF109 Launch Image

Toyota revealed their 2009 car, the TF109, for the first time on Thursday. The car was launched online with a short movie made in the style of a film trailer which featured drivers Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi. Along with the rest of the 2009 cars, the TF109 looks strikingly different to last years racer, with the standard much higher rear wing and wider front wing the most noticeable changes.

Toyota have made clear their aim for 2009 is to achieve their maiden race win. Having competed in the sport for 7 years with the largest budget, some members of the team hinted that if success does not come soon, Toyota may lose interest in F1 and follow Honda out of the sport. Trulli talked about the Japanese manufacturer’s commitment to F1 saying: “Toyota’s message has been very clear: we carry on with F1, however we all have a great responsibility to try to bring home the maiden victory, which could be decisive for the future.” John Howett, the teams president, echoed Trulli’s sentiments, saying: “To put ourselves in the best possible position to fight for our first victory, we need to be consistently challenging for the podium and scoring big points regularly.” Team principal Tadashi Yamashina added: “When I took over as Chairman and Team Principal in 2007 I stated my task for the first year would be to observe, for the second year it would be to improve and for the third year and beyond it would be to succeed. This is my third season so it is very clear for me – I want to see us win a race”

The team are very confident for the future, though, with Howett believing there is no doubt about Toyota’s long-term involvement in the sport. This comes on the same day that Panasonic extended their title sponsorship deal with Toyota until 2012.

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Jarno Trulli in Toyota TF108 at Bahrain

Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is expecting to record it’s first ever loss at the end of the financial year in March. Following on from the initial prediction of a $6.7 billion profit, the corporation is now forecasting a loss of $1.7 billion in the wake of the global financial crisis which has hit the car market badly.

Despite this, Toyota’s F1 team have re-confirmed they are committed to the sport and will not be pulling out. This comes under three weeks since they last had to issue a statement confirming they would not pull out, following their Japanese rival Honda’s withdrawal from the sport. President of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe, said earlier today: “The change in the world economy is of a magnitude that comes once every hundred years. We are facing an unprecedented emergency.” But despite the strong words, he also said: “We continue F1 and other motorsport activities while cutting costs.” Toyota F1 president John Howett repeated the views of other F1 teams, saying he is more concerned about the 2009 regulations than the financial issues.

It may come as a surprise to many however, that despite Honda having a richer heritage in motor racing than Toyota, they feel the need end F1 participation to be seen taking action against the financial meltdown, which may weaken Toyota’s image outside the sport.

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Ferrari have threatened to pull out of Formula 1 if the plan to standardise engines after 2009 goes ahead. They are the second team to make such a threat after Toyota warned the standard engines would leave the manufacturers with little interest in the sport.

A statement released by Ferrari said “The Ferrari Board of Directors expressed strong concerns regarding plans to standardise engines as it felt that such a move would detract from the entire raison of a sport with which Ferrari has been involved continuously since 1950 … The Board of Directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport.”

Despite this, FIA president, Max Mosley, appears to be going ahead with the engine homogenization, inviting any intrested parties to submit a tender to supply engines and/or transmission by November 7th. FOTA have confirmed none of the six manufactuers currently taking part in F1 (Toyota, Ferrari, Honda, Renault, Mercedes and BMW) will submit a tender.

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Timo Glock has topped the time sheets for the second practice session at the Fuji Speedway. His best lap for Toyota was a 1:18.383, putting him ahead of Singapore Grand Prix winner, Fernando Alonso, who went just 0.04 seconds slower for Renault as lap times noticeably improved from the first session.

The top two finished ahead of the main title rivals, who stayed in the same order as the in the morning session, with Lewis Hamilton extending the gap to 0.2 seconds ahead of Felipe Massa’s best lap. Kimi Raikkonen followed the two closely throughout the session, whilst Mark Webber pushed his Red Bull into the top six. Kazuki Nakajima continued his strong pace at the circuit, proving his knowledge of the track, and improving to seventh for Williams in front of his home fans. Sebastian Vettel kept Toro Rosso in the top ten, beating McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen could only manage tenth ahead of Jarno Trulli, Robert Kubica, Nelson Piquet Jr, Nico Rosberg and Sebstien Bourdais. Toyota had more reason to celebrate as their arch-rivals, Honda, had a poor session with Rubens Barrichello in fifteenth and Jenson Button last, despite being only 1.6 seconds adrift of Timo Glock. Adrian Sutil, David Coulthard, Giancarlo Fisichella and Nick Heidfeld joined Honda at the bottom.

Friday action is complete, and as F1 heads into the final practice session and qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, the battle this time looks to be set between the title rivals, unless Toyota or Renault can spring another surprise.

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Timo Glock set the fastest time in an hour of difficult conditions, which saw parts of the track underwater. The real front-runners left it too late to set notable times, so Glock and Toyota were on P1 for most of the session, a time of 1:35.464, a full 0.6 seconds faster than Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel, and Nico Rosberg was a further 0.2 seconds behind for Williams.

Jarno Trulli made a good session better for Toyota in fourth, whilst their challengers for fourth place, Renault, managed only 9th and 14th. BMW sat in 6th and 12th, Nick Heidfeld 0.6 seconds faster than Robert Kubica. Force India took 10th and 11th and David Coulthard, in seventh,  was 0.6 seconds faster than his teammate, Mark Webber.

Qualifying is next, and if the weather stays as it is, it could be very eventful.

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