Ralf's new team ... T O Y O T A <<< take me home! >>>
page updated 24.2.05 -- pre-season Testing & the new Toyota TF105
Visit Ralf's Gallery at Yahoo for more recent pictures including a nice one of Ralf in his drivers suit: click here
Here's Ralf with Mike Gascoyne (technical director) and Dieter Gass (race engineer) Thursday February 17

Valencia, Spain, 23.2.05 Ralf attempted a few outings but immediately returned to the pits, as the bad conditions rendered data acquisition useless. He even spun in one of his one-lap runs. "I am quite happy with the work I did, despite the conditions. I did quite a lot of tire tests and the other teams did less. Obviously it would have been ideal to have had another dry test today, but I am happy". Toyota, BAR and Williams have opted to stay in the hope for clearer Thursday skies.

Article at crash.net about the technology used for creating models of Ralf & Jarno to assist in the car design.

Valencia Test Feb 22nd

Toyota at Barcelona (15th-18th Feb) Toyota Test Summary at motorsport.com

Barcelona Test @ motorsport.com Ralf concluded the team's four day test with third on the timesheet. The TF105 was running with a revised aerodynamic package and Ralf was pleased with the result, despite the track conditions not being ideal. "The new aerodynamic package obviously improves the car massively. We can't give an exact figure of how much it has improved because the conditions here have been difficult and people's lap times have been all over the place. It is also hard to compare lap times with the last time we were in Barcelona because the circuit was brand new. But it always helps to have more downforce and this is quite an improvement. We still have work to do but we are reasonably happy with the package so far"

Another rehash for '05 Toyota Even though Toyota's 2005 car just had a major update, yet another will strike TF105 prior to the Australian grand prix. It's not known whether the new bodywork had already been planned, or will come as a reaction to the package's less-than-shining debut at Barcelona. On Thursday, Ralf tried the car - and only managed to outpace a couple of tame Jordans. "We've got some more parts coming for Melbourne" a Toyota insider - who also said a lack of grip in the car's rear had not been cured - confirmed. And for the Malaysian grand prix, we can also reveal, the car will have a new front wing.

Well it makes a good headline (click for the story)

Toyota at Jerez (8th-11th Feb)
Toyota Test Summary at motorsport.com

Q: How has the car been progressing, and how much are you looking forward to trying out the Melbourne-spec aerodynamic package?

RS: Obviously any progress we can get and anything that makes us go quicker is always appreciated. Still, I must say while we seemed to struggle at times at Valencia last week, here at Jerez the package we already have looks a bit better and closer to the other teams.

Jerez @ f1racing.net Ralf wasn't able to keep his car undamaged. He went off into the gravel and lightly, fortunately for the car, hit the tyre barriers. Most teams focussed on setting up the car for Melbourne and trying to find the right tyre compound.

Toyota at Valencia (1st-4th Feb)
Toyota's Test Summary at motorsport.com

Q: Jarno, what have you been working on at Valencia this week?

JT: I spent Thursday doing work on setting up the car on long runs, putting in 100 laps. On Friday we moved onto tyre work. These Valencia tests have been the first time we can get a real idea of how the TF105 works - after a shakedown at Jerez and a week of difficult conditions in Barcelona. This was also the first week that the other new cars have started running so we can now start to get a better idea of where we stand.

Q: So how is the TF105 performing?

JT: The car has been pretty reliable and it also seems to be quick and competitive. Our best times compared quite favourably with the others, but there are still some problems with consistency over longer runs. We still have three weeks to go before we leave for Melbourne so we will now investigate what's happening and we hope to resolve that as soon as possible.

Q: Ralf, how have things gone for you this week?

RS: It's been a pretty good test and I've made some progress with setting up the car. On Wednesday we put in over 90 laps and completed our planned programme. We had one or two reliability problems during the week but mechanically the car is good and it seems to compare quite well with the others.

Q: How are things progressing for Melbourne?

RS: Looking at the last two tests we look slightly better than we expected. Here at Valencia most of the cars were generally putting in times within about half a second of each other. So we're pleased with what we've seen so far and we appear to be pretty competitive. But exactly how competitive we'll only find out in Melbourne when everyone brings what they think is the best package they have.

Q: What have you been working on here in Valencia?

OP: Tuesday was a very good day and I put in over 100 laps working primarily on tyres. The car's performance was strong too, so that was positive - now we have to keep that going. On Wednesday morning I did some work to set up the car for long runs.

Q: You went home early on Wednesday. What was wrong?

OP: Unfortunately I was suffering with the flu and a fever, so the morning session proved really hard work. Valencia is a good circuit for setting up the car, but it's quite tricky for the driver, so it gets quite tiring after a long day. As I was feeling too bad at lunchtime we decided to stop. That meant that I was unable to finish the long runs we had planned for the afternoon and I returned home.

Q: Ricardo, you didn't do too many laps on Friday. Why was that?

RZ: On Friday I just carried out a shakedown for the wet tyre test we have planned for tomorrow (Saturday). That meant I only needed to put in a handful of laps. There is a new gentleman's agreement in place regarding testing which means that teams can't run three cars together on the track at any one time. So I fitted in my shakedown around what Ralf and Jarno were doing.

Toyota at Barcelona (4 day test completed 21.01.05)
Toyota's Test Summary at motorsport.com

Q: Ralf, some teams decided not to test at Barcelona this week citing problems with the new tarmac. Why did Toyota stay on?

Ralf: The Circuit de Catalunya was very slippery to start with, and some teams made a decision not to test here as a result. But we thought it was better to stay here in order to get some running time at the circuit and find out about any problems we might encounter at the Spanish Grand Prix here in May. As it turned out, with quite a few cars running on the track, by about Thursday afternoon more rubber had gone down and the conditions became more reasonable.

Q: How much progress has been made with the TF105 this week?

Ralf: We have not been able to make much progress with the TF105 because of the track conditions. However, we made good use of our time here to put mileage on the car, before a bit of tyre testing on the last day. The most productive thing about the week was that we had some small reliability issues on my car, which we were able to find and cure early. That actually made the test very useful for us.

From: sports.yahoo.com Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, both on track in the new TF105, completed 113 laps in total, the two split by less than a tenth of a second. Reflecting on the test, Trulli commented:

"The Barcelona circuit has changed a lot since they resurfaced the tarmac and at the start of the week we had a lot of problems getting used to the new asphalt. The grip level was very low, making it very slippery, and those problems continued for most of the week. In the end, the times people were able to record weren't as bad as some had feared, but it was still slower than before"

"The conditions didn't improve enough during the week to make it possible to do much meaningful work on the performance of the TF105. In the cold mornings it is especially slippery, then as the sun comes out and the track cleans up the wind gets up too. Instead we concentrated on getting mileage under our belts, working on the reliability side of the new car. From that point of view things have gone pretty well"

From: motorsport.com Toyota finished its four day test with Jarno Trulli, Ralf Schumacher and Olivier Panis all on duty. Tester Panis headed the trio in second, seven tenths down on Barrichello, with Trulli and Ralf third and fourth. The drivers experienced some difficulty with the new surface at the track.

Panis expected a challenging time on Saturday when Toyota carried out wet tyre tests. "We have a wet tyre test planned tomorrow, although I think the conditions here in the wet could make it very hard. It is already difficult to run in the dry here, so I expect it will be extremely difficult in the wet".

Ralf on Barcelona testing: The track is so slippery but it's ok -- you can drive on it without losing too much time.

Ralf: The two of us know that there is a big job to do and we need to do it together... Williams is not a team that puts too much effort into drivers getting along well, that's not their aim... Jarno has always been a good colleague anyway, even when we were in different teams. He is a very easy guy - as we both are - so it has been great so far. For the moment we are really busy with pushing the whole project forwards. I think we make the ideal driver line-up for Toyota because we will continuously push each other to find new limits.

Jarno: I'm pretty happy that Ralf is my team mate. I always prefer a very strong and competitive team mate, I think together we will do an extremely good job... Ralf has always been very quick and I've got a lot of respect for him, so I hope we can work well together. I have had some good battles with my team-mates down the years, so I am sure that it will be another hard battle with Ralf. The best way to improve a team is to respect your team-mate. I certainly respect Ralf and he is an intelligent person, so I don't foresee any problems.

Ralf debuts the TF105 (photo) also see: Back view of the TF105 (photo)

Toyota Jerez test summary Q: Testing moves to Barcelona next week - what will the programme be? MG: In Barcelona we will have our second new TF105 chassis available and our race drivers are scheduled to run for four days each in the new package from next Tuesday (18 January)

Ralf at homeoff1.com Don't be fooled, Ralf warned at Jerez after completing a second day at the wheel of the brand new Toyota. He might be second-to-last on the timesheet of nine, but he's the only runner at the wheel of a definitive ready-to-race 2005 package. "We're still not really looking at the lap sheet because it is pointless to compare - everyone here has still got elements of the old package so they are naturally faster"

His face told the real story - he's happy with TF105. "I'm not noticing the missing downforce until I cross the line at the end. The other teams will discover that they also lose the lap time, when they're running in their new car too"

Ralf at f1racing.net (with pictures) He wasn't quickest, but Ralf attracted plenty of attention at Spain's Jerez test track on Tuesday. He debuted the shining 2005 Toyota model, launched in nearby Barcelona last weekend. "I must say, I am quite impressed" he said, despite an apparent cooling problem and a mere 40-lap debut day. He added, after going fifth fastest in the field of six: "I am absolutely positive about this car"

He also reported amazement that - despite less grip due to the new aerodynamic and tyre code - the car's actual 'balance' appeared unaffected. "You might be surprised, but (the balance was not affected) at all. I'm sure we'll feel the result at the end of the lap, though" Ralf added, referring to ultimate pace. "So far I have a good feeling - the car feels very driveable right from the beginning, and that's important"

Toyota makes track debut @ itv-f1.com Ralf gave a positive initial verdict on the car’s potential despite the fact that his running was restricted to 40 laps (about one-third of what most other drivers managed) due to overheating problems in the morning. After a pit visit to add an extra air duct to the sidepod of the TF105, Ralf wound up fifth fastest of the six cars present. But it was difficult to draw any firm conclusions about the car’s ultimate performance because it was the only 2005 chassis in action. Even so, an encouraging sign for Toyota was that it was less than half a second slower than the BAR of Anthony Davidson, which is understood to have been the only other car conforming to the 2005 aerodynamic regulations that have slashed downforce.

Previous to this Ralf predicted that the new car restrictions, including a harder tyre compound, should only slow the field by about a second and a half. "I think that later, we'll be doing similar lap times (to 2004). F1 is not going to be a lot slower"

Ralf on his new team at eecho.ie Ralf claims he has a better chance of becoming world champion at Toyota than former team Williams. He has been so impressed by what he has found at Toyota, he claims the days of Williams dominating Formula One are a thing of the past.

Ralf: “It never worked out at Williams. It was time to move on. Here there is different pressure. It’s amazing to see the possibilities. It’s a totally new challenge. I think it’s unfair to say one is better than the other, I just agree a little more with Toyota. The team certainly doesn’t have as much experience but they have a lot of quality people. I was really surprised with how well they do work. It just takes some time. At Williams there are a lot of capable people there, but it is a very small company and it all depends on two people, Frank Williams and Patrick Head. They are not the youngest any more and they don’t have a manufacturer behind them. I think Toyota is far better”

Ralf sees his move to Toyota as similar to brother Michael’s switch to Ferrari in 1996, when the Italian team were struggling badly. Michael Schumacher moulded an ultra-competitive team around himself and was rewarded with five consecutive world titles. Now Ralf is planning to drag Toyota to the top in a similar way.

Ralf: “I have patience and really it’s a long-term project anyway, three or four years. That’s what it takes. My main target is to be world champion and now I have the perfect opportunity in a young team. Rest assured I won’t give it away. It’s unrealistic to say we are going for wins in the first few races but things will change a lot. It’s just a matter of developing the car throughout the season. We have to catch up and get some good results from mid-season onwards”

The New Toyota Gallery @ pitpass.com -- Ralf models his new drivers suit at: crash.net and itv-f1.com
Toyota launch transcript @ motorsport.com They talk to Ralf near the end.

The Toyota TF105 - Technically Speaking... (the complicated but important stuff)

Besides the car's raised front wing and “deeper” rear wing, courtesy of the new ‘05 aero regulations, the TF105’s most notable aspect is its heavily sculpted rear bodywork, with winglets similar to last season's Renault RS24’s - not coincidentally, the very team Gascoyne left to join Toyota.

"The technical regulations put in place for the 2005 season have had a profound impact on the development of the TF105" said Gascoyne. "We lost around 25 per cent of downforce upon initial implementation of the new aero regulations in the windtunnel and our biggest aim in the TF105 has been to reduce this amount to the minimum in time for January testing. Although we are introducing the TF105 comparatively early, there will be significant development on it before the first race of the season"

Other important modifications are in the engine, now demanded by the FIA to last for two race weekends instead of one. But Toyota's engine designer Luca Marmorini believes the new RVX-05 unit will be able to start this season with the same horsepower level it finished last year, even with the added reliability: "We started designing our new engine at a very early stage. Every single component of the engine underwent thorough reliability tests on the dynos in-house and initial tests of the engine have shown encouraging results" From speedtv.com

The TF105 is the first car design overseen by new technical director Mike Gascoyne, who was lured away from Renault last year. "As soon as we began to get an indication of the likely regulation changes for 2005 we started to set our targets accordingly. We compromised the development of our TF104B car in the final races of last season in order to try and gain a competitive advantage in 2005"

Among the new rules that TF105 will have to adapt to is the two Grand Prix engine rule, something that Luca Marmorini, the man in charge of engine development, is confident the team has achieved successfully. "We started at a very early stage to develop an engine that was increasingly reliable. During 2004, we began to improve the reliability of specific parts in the engine, and in fact we already used some of these parts in the RVX-04 model. Creating an engine to last somewhere in the region of 1,500 kilometres was an enjoyable and interesting technical challenge"

Marmorini says he expects to start the season with the same kind of engine power that the team possessed at the end of last year. "The first track tests with the hybrid version were very promising and I believe that the Toyota RVX-05 will be among the very best engines in Formula One in 2005". Marmorini adds Toyota have already started working on a new V8 powerplant in preparation for the new rules which will take effect in 2006. That would see engine capacity reduced from 3-litre V10s to 2.4-litre V8.

Gascoyne credits the team's wind tunnel for much of the new TF105 aerodynamic look and design. Gascoyne believes that they can finally extract the maximum performance from their 50%-scale Cologne wind tunnel in order to reduce the gap to the front-running teams in 2005. Gascoyne says the car launched in Barcelona is only the first stage in the development of the TF105, and the team are already working on a new aerodynamic package in time for the Australian Grand Prix in March.

"In the chassis design office, almost immediately after the TF104 was launched, we opted to appoint two project groups, one focusing on the development of the TF104, latterly the TF104B, and the other concentrating on the TF105, headed up by chief designer Gustav Brunner" From tsn.ca

The TF105 is the first of the new-look Formula One cars to be revealed after rule changes this season to reduce speeds on safety grounds. However the look is likely to be considerably different by the time the season starts in Melbourne on March 6. "We will totally re-bodywork the car for Melbourne so we can have the latest aero package" said Mike Gascoyne. From news.yahoo.com

Mike Gascoyne: "We are introducing the TF105 comparatively early. There will be significant development on it before the first race of the season. We will have a totally new aerodynamic package in Melbourne, but we want to run the new car as soon as possible in order to get it reliable for the Australian Grand Prix" From sports.yahoo.com

Mike Gascoyne talks about Ralf & Jarno at: sports.yahoo.com "I think both Ralf and Jarno are drivers who need to be in the right frame of mind to perform consistently, and a lot of that has to do with having the right team and the right environment around them. We have got to make sure that that we give them a car with which they can do their best, and that we create the environment where they can do that consistently"

Toyota hoping for a Podium in 2005 Article at speedtv.com. The closest they have got to a podium finish was Olivier Panis' fifth place at the 2004 U.S. GP. There's an article that compares the new Toyota to the film The Wicker Man at pitpass.com You'll have to read it so see what connection they made...

10 December 2004 Jerez, Spain: Toyota Testing @ motorsport.com

Ralf: "We've enjoyed excellent weather at Jerez this week, which has been very important because we struggled to achieve anything significant in the wet here last week. We've been working mainly on tyres and brakes and we've got through the plan without any problems. On the first two days we did some set-up work and long runs on tyre casings for next year"

"I had an engine problem on Wednesday, but it didn't really harm our programme because it was at the end of its life anyway. Apart from that it has been a trouble-free week. On the last two days we tested more tyre compounds for next year, doing some more long runs on Friday"

4 December 2004 Jerez, Spain: Toyota Testing @ motorsport.com

Ralf: "Unfortunately the weather this week has been pretty unreliable and very unstable, so that's disrupted our planned programme. We ran with a few new aerodynamic parts as an early preparation for 2005 but I did not have any dry running all week, so it's difficult to draw any real conclusions. Hopefully it will be dry here next week and we can get through more of our programme"

"Here, the rain meant most of our productive work has been on traction control and testing out wet tyres from Michelin. We put in some work on shallow wets on Thursday, but for most of the afternoon the track wasn't driveable so we decided to spend most of the time in the garage so as not to risk the car"

"On Friday we put in more laps and got through our programme of tyre comparisons. The car has been pretty easy to control in the wet so, like in Barcelona, I've again been pleasantly surprised"

From an interview with Mike Gascoyne Toyota's Technical Director at f1.racing-live.com.

26 November: Ralf is getting used to a new Formula One team and car in Barcelona. He said the Spanish session was all about "getting used (to Toyota)"

"He is reacting positively to his new team" said a Toyota member at the Circuit de Catalunya, "and to the overall package -- the team is encouraged by (Ralf's) motivation and performance. The first test for any driver with a new team is about acclimatisation"

Ralf stopped short of predicting too much about the 2005 championship. "I'm going to wait until I drive the new car before talking about next year" he said, commenting that the first proper test of the winter will occur at Jerez.

There's a longer article at yahoo.com
Toyota hope to be the first team to have their 2005 car finished aiming at completing the TF105 around Christmas time. The car will be the first that has been designed from the outset by technical director Mike Gascoyne, who joined the team from Renault last year too late to have any major influence over this year’s relatively unsuccessful TF104. With Jarno and Ralf coming on board for 2005, the outfit’s chiefs have high hopes for a dramatic step forward in pace next year – something that Gascoyne is optimistic he can achieve. He helped transform the fortunes of Jordan and Benetton during his previous spells as a technical director and believes he can already see history repeating itself with Toyota. Although the exact finishing date for the Toyota has not been finalized, the team is hoping to have it running from the very first day of testing in January. From speedtv.com
The rumours have started already... Pitlane pundits are wondering how long it will take Ralf and Jarno to fall out at Toyota. A lot of the friction between Ralf and JPM (though Montoya wouldn’t admit it) was because of the huge pay differential between the two of them at BMW-Williams, with Ralf earning double his salary. Under Mike Gascoyne’s charge at Toyota Ralf will earn around $10m a season, while Jarno is understood to be earning $6m. As Ian Phillips, Jordan’s commercial director commented on Radio5 Live, “Ralf’s a bit of a moody buggar” (yes, but I like him that way...) From planet-f1.com

Those who work at Williams may not have wanted Ralf to leave, but he has gone. Now we have to get used to supporting a new team. This article gives a bit of background info. The rest of the website will change over to a Toyota supporting site soon. This is all new to me so I'll be learning about the team as I go along.

From an article at sports.yahoo.com

Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne has warned his team they cannot afford another season of failure. The Cologne-based outfit have one of the biggest budgets in Formula One but results in their third year at that level have been hugely disappointing. Toyota ended the season eighth in the constructors' championship after scoring a measly nine points from 18 races.

Gascoyne took over last winter and was prepared for a season of rebuilding, but after a particularly difficult campaign he knows Toyota's Japanese bosses will not tolerate another embarrassment. "Obviously we've had a difficult and frustrating year. We haven't had the results that we wanted at the start of the year. The team has to start delivering from the start of next year. There's absolutely no doubt about that and I'm very confident we're in a position to do that"

"You can't make the step to the top in one step. It's far too difficult to do that and the teams you are racing against are far too good to allow that to happen but I'm very confident we will make a significant step forward. I think we haven't had many high points this season unfortunately. There are always things you enjoy throughout a season but we've not had many high points. We just have to look forward to next year"

Gascoyne remains convinced he can turn Toyota's fortunes around though. He was brought in last December to give the team focus and has spent this season gearing Toyota's design department up for an improved 2005. The team boast a strong engine but their chassis has been among the most troublesome in Formula One. Gascoyne believes he is on course to remedy that and by signing Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli for next season he has a top-class driver line-up.

He added: "I joined last December and I think our level of performance didn't come as a great surprise to me. We knew what we had to do to improve the team and that's inevitably going to take time. It's a process I've done before and I have to say I'm very comfortable with where we are. But we still had to do the best we could this year and obviously we haven't had the results we wanted. It's been a season of change for us and with the drivers that's reflected that. But we have to make decisions to make sure we get set up to be in the best possible position at the start of next year because one thing's for sure, if this season's been disappointing, next year can't be"

This article brings you up-to-date on Toyota's activities outside F1. Used to seeing Ralf attend BMW-related events, now he will most likely be promoting Toyota's cars as a side-line to his F1 career.

From an article at news.yahoo.com

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's biggest automaker with a net profit of more than 1 trillion yen a year, finds one automobile business sector a struggle -- the Formula One racing series it entered in 2002 in what was viewed as an attempt to create a new corporate image.

Toyota broke into Formula One with a pledge to pull off a podium finish within three years. But at this year's series, which ended with Sunday's Brazilian GP, Toyota failed to deliver on the pledge.

The Toyota racing team's performance will greatly affect the automaker's project to develop a full-scale sports car. Toyota hopes to release the new vehicle after a strong finish in Formula One possibly next year. But given its weak performances so far, some senior Toyota officials say the sports car may as well be released separately from the auto racing series.

Nevertheless, Toyota is taking steps to reinforce its Formula One team. For example, it has hired Ralf Schumacher. Ralf came second in a Williams-BMW car in the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

Toyota is also upgrading the Fuji Speedway operated by a subsidiary in the town of Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, in a bid to host Formula One Grand Prix races there starting in 2007.

Toyota's entry into the racing circuit has generated some fruits. For example, the company has since expanded its weak presence in the European car market to capture a share of 5 percent. But Toyota needs to further enhance its image in order to achieve a target of capturing a 15 percent share of the global auto market in the early 2010s.

An auto analyst says that as Formula One is a part of European culture, even Toyota will need some time to become a key player in it. Auto industry officials are paying keen attention to whether Toyota can exploit its technological prowess in Formula One next year.
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