Following Ferrari's unveiling of its new F60, Toyota is the second team to release its new challenger for the 2009 Formula One season. Called the TF109, it's the only car unveiled exclusively online without a public reveal. Of course, looking at it, you could paint the remaining white panels red (and move the wing mirrors to the sidepods) and it would look pretty much like Ferrari's. That's because all the cars have to conform to the same set of new rules, so it was back to the drawing board for all the teams. Naturally that means it'll be hard to predict which teams and which drivers will have adapted to the new rules and new cars the best, but Toyota's veteran driver Jarno Trulli is confident that the team is due for its first victory this season.
Wait, what? Yeah, despite pouring unprecedented heaps of cash at its Cologne, Germany-based team, Toyota has yet to win a grand prix. They came the closest last season, finishing a respectable fifth place in the constructors' championship just behind the former champions at Renault, but together with his team-mate Timo Glock, the 2007 GP2 champion, Trulli hopes this year will change the team's fortunes and translate its vast resources into trophies. And this is the car with which they hope to do it. Press release after the jump and images in the gallery below.
[Source: Panasonic Toyota Racing] PRESS RELEASE
THE MAKING OF TF109
TF109 – or Toyota Formula 1 2009 to give it its full name – is hot property. The first images revealed a stunning production which combines the latest technology with a very human passion to succeed. This potent combination has been working on TF109 since October 2007.
In a departure from recent Panasonic Toyota Racing productions, TF109 takes on a new shape, dictated by the FIA, with wider front wings, narrower rear wings and fewer additional aerodynamic devices the fashion for 2009.
The script may be different but Panasonic Toyota Racing has set its usual high targets for TF109. Chairman and Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina states: "Our target this year is to fight to win the first race for Toyota in Formula 1."
TF109 is the sequel to the successful TF108, which once again established Panasonic Toyota Racing as a major player. TF108's roll of honour included two podiums, one front row start and, with 56, more points than in 2006 (35pts) and 2007 (13pts) combined. A Toyota was in the top 10 on the starting grid for 14 of the 18 Grands Prix, finishing in the points 12 times, with nine top-six finishes.
President John Howett says: "After eight years in Formula 1 we have gained a huge amount of knowledge and improved considerably. There are many elements of our team which are at the very highest level so the challenge now is to fill any gaps and ensure the entire organisation is performing at the very top. Then we must put all the elements together and deliver the success we are all fighting so hard for."
Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were the critically-acclaimed co-stars of TF108 and their on-track chemistry will reach new heights in TF109, once again supported by Kamui Kobayashi playing 'Third Driver'.
Tadashi Yamashina comments: "In my opinion Toyota has one of the best driver line-ups in Formula 1 and I am excited to see what they can do with the TF109. Both drivers proved last season that if we give them a competitive car they are capable of fighting with the best in the world, so our challenge this year is to deliver a car which will allow them to do this more often."
For Jarno, this is his fifth full year starring with Panasonic Toyota Racing. He brings maturity and heartfelt passion to his role while co-star Timo (title winner for GP2 Series in 2007) builds on the natural talent he showed in TF108, the first leading role of his career, to give a polished performance which is the perfect compliment.
Jarno, 34, says: "I have now spent longer racing for Toyota in Formula 1 than any other driver and I have seen the huge progress that has been made since I joined in 2004. It has been a long journey and we have had ups and downs but we have never given up or lost faith."
Timo is a relative newcomer to the role of Formula 1 leading actor, with just 22 Grands Prix on his resume, but his adaptability and quick thinking make him the perfect candidate to tackle TF109's technical challenge.
Timo, 26, says: "If you look back at the cars I have been racing for the last five years they have all been quite different, with the 2004 Jordan, then Champ Car, GP2 and the Toyota TF108, and I have been competitive in each of them. That shows how quickly I can adapt to a different car so I don't have any concerns at all about adjusting to the 2009-style Formula 1 cars."
Behind the scenes, those technical challenges required a painstaking approach from the production team. Action is the buzz word for this season so downforce is reduced and the potential for on-track cliff-hangers is the talk of the paddock. The most striking differences are changes to the front and rear wings. At 1800mm, front wings are wider and 75mm lower while rear wings are 75% narrower at 750mm.
Senior General Manager Chassis Pascal Vasselon says: "This complete programme has been more demanding on our company than any previous new car project I have been involved in."
An old favourite makes a comeback for 2009 with Bridgestone Potenza slick tyres ending a 12-year sabbatical to do their bit to spice up the show, bringing mechanical, rather than aerodynamic, sticking power.
As well as the subtle contribution of aerodynamics and star power of slick tyres, production of TF109 also focused on the commanding performance of Formula 1 engines, which must now work 50% harder. That means at least three Grands Prix, while Jarno and Timo have only eight engines each to co-star with from Australia to Abu Dhabi.