Quotes and Interviews - 2005 F1 Season page 10 <<< take me home! >>>
page created 30 November - BRAZILIAN, JAPANESE & CHINESE GP'S 2005
Ralf and Jarno will drive for Toyota next year, on Bridgestone tyres.

CHINESE GP 2005

Ralf: Trulli was quicker in '05 (26 October) Ralf beat Jarno to sixth place in the world championship by two points. Ralf: "Jarno and I weren't able to have much influence over this year's car, but Jarno did a slightly better job with it"

Ralf came in to form towards the end of the season and the introduction of the TF105B in Japan suited his driving style better than Trulli. He appeared to revel in the new car, taking pole position in the Japanese GP and then finishing third in the season finale in China. The B chassis carried several parts earmarked for Toyota's 2006 challenger and Ralf hopes that his end-of-season form is a sign of things to come.

Ralf: "Hopefully the problems I had with this year's car won't be repeated next year. The B-spec car that we brought out towards the end of the season was a step forward in performance"

Mike Gascoyne Q & A (23 October) Q: Have you been happy with the drivers' performance? MG: "Yes. Ralf is very critical of himself in terms of qualifying performance but he's picked up a lot of points"

Q: You have worked with both before. Was their level what you expected? MG: "They are both above what they were. Certainly Jarno is a better driver than when I worked with him before, and Ralf too, has matured. They have still both got the talent they had but they are more complete drivers"

Ralf reviews the 2005 season (22 October) Q: What has most impressed you about Toyota this year? Ralf: The team itself. I came from Williams, a very experienced team, to one where I thought there might still be work to do, but I arrived at a team that is a lot better organised than I have experienced before. They are very motivated people, with a great spirit. People on the outside say that the team looks too big to react quickly but it is structured very well and there is such a hunger to do well that it is very enjoyable place to work.

Mike Gascoyne (technical director) "Ralf didn't have the heights of qualifying that Jarno had but in the last few races he did some very solid qualifying. He's a good racer once he gets the bit between the teeth. The one thing about Ralf is that once he gets a sniff of it, he's very consistent. Once the car was good and he needed to do a job, he did it very well"

Chinese GP Press Conference Transcript Q: Ralf, I think you have overtaken your team-mate in the Drivers' championship. What does that mean to you? Ralf: Well, on one hand it is nice, on the other hand I have always said we always want to win races, we want to win championships and whether you are sixth, seventh, fifth, tenth. I don't even know where I am now, it doesn't really matter.

Q: Surprised to be on the podium today? Ralf: Um, kind of (surprised). I must say, really, kind of (surprised). The whole weekend we have been struggling big time, really. In Japan we seemed to have been strong with a bit of luck, but in the race we had a bad time with the safety car. Here we didn't expect too much from the race. The safety car helped a bit but then during the race we picked up the pace massively and that enabled me to go forward and we had a good strategy as well.

Q: Third place? You are happy with that? Ralf: Oh yes, especially for the team. They did a great job all year long, really pushed it and when you consider from where we came and where we are now, so it's a great thing. I have another podium in the pocket for the winter time, it keeps the motivation going and just enables us to take it from here.

Q: It's a good result to have for the next race, isn't it? Ralf: Yeah, we have to wait a little longer now.

Photo of Ralf after the China GP

Toyota ended its best ever season with fourth place in the constructors' championship with 88 points.

Ralf finished third in China (16 October)


Ralf: "That was a great way to cap off an excellent first season with Toyota, especially coming after a pretty hard weekend. The car was really difficult to handle in qualifying and at the beginning of the race but the first safety car came out at just the right time for me. I think I was due a bit of luck after what happened at last week's Japanese Grand Prix and this time it paid off. The team did a good strategy and after the second safety car period I was in second. At that point the handling was incredible and I was almost able to keep up with Alonso and pull out the gap I needed. The pit stops were excellent today and I'd like to pass on a big thank you to all the team. I've scored points in 14 races out of 19 this year and I look forward to pushing even further up the grid next season"

Toyota qualifying notes Ralf and Jarno will line up in 9th and 12th places respectively.

Toyota in £17 million bid for Alonso That's FIVE times his current £3.5m pay packet.

Q & A with Ralf (12 Oct) How do you feel about finishing the season in China? Ralf: "It has been a long year, at 19 races the biggest calendar in F1 history. But in a way that has been balanced by having a better season than expected. For Toyota to finish so close to the defending champions in just its fourth season is a good effort from everyone in Cologne and everyone in Japan. It will be nice for everyone to have a short break after China but then we will be back at it again, full throttle, trying to perform even more strongly next year. The Chinese have done an incredible job with their facilities and I just hope we can put on as good a show for them as we did for the Japanese!"

Toyota may lose Ralf Toyota has made a $25 million bid for new world champion Fernando Alonso - the youngest champion in Formula One history - he could leave Renault at the end of next season. German newspapers report Toyota has offered Alonso a fee that would quadruple his $6 million salary. They would probably cut Ralf, who has been disappointing this season after being outshone by Jarno Trulli. Alonso's contract expires at the end of 2006.

Toyota preview Chinese GP Ralf: "Last year's Chinese Grand Prix was my race return after three months away, so it was quite a challenging weekend in many respects. I found the Shanghai International Circuit to be really well designed with some unique characteristics, especially the long corners. It's a nice combination of being a technical circuit without being high speed. Turn 1 is a challenging corner coming almost full circle. You need to be committed through here because it is easy to make a mistake... Now I am looking forward to returning with Toyota for what promises to be an exciting end to a successful 2005 season"
JAPANESE GP 2005

Three-stop strategy fails for Ralf (9 Oct) Toyota took a single point from its home race after Ralf took eighth place around Suzuka. Ralf: "That was a pretty tough end to a weekend that promised so much. I made a great start and was getting away from the rest of the pack when the safety car came out, which was bad news for our three-stop strategy. When it stayed out for so many laps it effectively put an end to our chances. We still raced as hard as we could and fought to grab as much out of the race as possible. Unfortunately in the second half of the race I had quite a heavy vibration and so I had to back off again. Without the safety car our strategy could have put us somewhere between third and fifth place but I guess a point is better than nothing. We'll hope to do better next time"

Ralf on pole in Japan (8 Oct) Ralf: "I didn't expect to qualify on pole... It is incredible. I have always loved Suzuka, I have been racing here since 1995, and this is the first time for a Japanese team being on pole, which is obviously great"

Ralf puts Toyota on pole Ralf: "It feels great. Being in Japan, on a circuit I like, with Toyota for the first time here, first time on pole, so it's a great result for the team" (the pole was the sixth of Ralf's career and first for Toyota)

Ralf happy with the TF105B (7 Oct) Ralf: The B car is a slight improvement on the TF105 that we have been running this year... Another reason for bringing the TF105B to the last two races was to put in some work on the car as a preparation for next season"

Toyota on testing the TF105B at Jerez (Ralf's happy) Ricardo also talks about the new V8 engine to be used next year: "We have two cylinders less and therefore 20% less power, so every team and every driver is going to find the cars less challenging, because part of the reason for the new engine regulations is to stop speeds getting too high in F1"

Is there any risk involved in taking a new car to the last two flyaway races? Mike Gascoyne (Technical Director) "There is an inherent risk with all the unknowns involved in two flyaway races, but we feel that fourth place in the constructors championship is secure after Brazil and it's unlikely that we will be able to challenge for third. So, bearing that in mind, we think it's worth taking the risk and if we get a good result in Japan maybe we might be able to push for third at the final race in Shanghai"

Update: Jarno decides to race new chassis Both Toyota drivers will now race the revised TF105B chassis in Japan after Jarno decided to put his misgivings about the new car aside. "I will race the B car" he said (click link for more comments)

Upgraded Toyota for Ralf Ralf will race Toyota’s upgraded B-spec chassis in Japan after Jarno struggled to get to grips with the car in testing. The revised car is expected to give the team a big performance boost. The new chassis is understood to suit Ralf’s driving style better, and Jarno was not happy with the car when he tried it at Jerez.

Toyota want third in constructors The team go into the Japanese GP 17 points behind struggling Ferrari, with only the Shanghai race on 16 October to follow.

Japanese GP - Toyota Preview (30 Sept) Toyota's home race. Jarno and Ralf will both benefit from new specification RVX-05 engines at this weekend's Japanese GP. The performance step marks the end of Toyota's Formula 1 V10 development programme with the introduction of V8 units due in 2006.

Ralf: "I am really looking forward to driving for Toyota in Japan in front of the passionate Japanese fans. Suzuka is a circuit I know well from my time racing in the country before I arrived in Formula One. It is also my favourite track on the calendar because it provides a really good mix of corners and a big challenge for all the drivers"

"The evidence this year shows that we go pretty well on high speed tracks so it would be great to have another strong performance here. I won the Japanese F3000 championship in 1996 so I have good memories of the country and I always look forward to my trips there. Local knowledge can also come in handy if there is a wet race as you can predict which areas of the track will dry the quickest. We will certainly be aiming to bring home some more points and who knows? Perhaps we can even make it to the podium" (hope so!!)

Final test session of the season at Jerez (28 Sept) Ralf continued to work on the development programme of the TF105B while Ricardo Zonta drove a V8-powered version of the car. Both drivers encountered technical problems, notably with the engines. Read Ricardo's thoughts on the V8 engine (not much...)
BRAZILIAN GP 2005

Tsutomu Tomita unhappy with Michelin (25 Sept) Ralf took his TF105 to 8th place after a solid afternoon's work in trying circumstances after suffering understeer in qualifying caused by a tyre issue. Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "We are very disappointed that this happened, but because of the strong racing and commercial relationship between Michelin and Toyota over many years we are confident that this situation will not arise again... it is now very difficult to chase third position in the constructors' championship, but we will keep pushing. We are especially keen to show our best performance at home in Japan in two weeks' time"

Ralf: "That was a pretty tough race for us today. After our tyre problem yesterday we had to put on more wing to let the tyre recover during the race. But the car was very difficult to drive all race, especially early on. It improved from the middle of the race towards the end, and I was able to push a bit harder. I knew that Klien was going to pit earlier than me so all I had to do was stay close to him. Then I was lucky because I had to let Raikkonen past during my crucial extra laps but I didn't lose too much time. After all that, one point is better than nothing"

Toyota reviews Brazil qualifying (24 Sept) Ralf: "That was a tough lap because I had a lot of understeer out there and it made it impossible to push as hard as I would have liked. The car had been going much better this morning and we will have to investigate exactly what changed between the two sessions. Overall it makes tomorrow a very hard proposition but we will do our best to improve our fortunes after what has been a very difficult weekend so far"

Grip hinders Trulli and Schumacher (23 Sept) "We had no particular problems as we completed our usual programme of work today, but it was a struggle to find any grip because it was so slippery... We will be hoping for another strong points finish on Sunday so that we can close the gap to Ferrari in the constructors' championship"

Toyota preview Brazilian GP With 3 races left, Toyota heads to Brazil in fourth place in the constructors' championship on 80 points, just ten points behind Ferrari.

Ralf: "Interlagos is a challenging circuit for both drivers and the technical team – one of the most demanding on the calendar. It's less bumpy than it used to be, which is lucky seeing as I've had such a pounding in past races that it's only taken a few laps to give me a headache!"

Toyota runs the TF105B at Silverstone (15 Sept) Ralf ran both the standard TF105 chassis and the new 'b-spec' car over two days. Toyota is hoping to take the TF105B to the next GP at Interlagos, but may opt to wait for their home event at Suzuka. The test was affected by the weather but Ralf said: "it was good to have a run in the B car which is a useful part of our development programme for 2006". Click the link to read comments by Olivier Panis and Mike Gascoyne on the new car.
Click here for quotes on earlier races <<< take me there! >>>
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