Gascoyne ready to show his worth

Mike Gascoyne has never been one to shy away from making bold predictions about the future. His success in helping turn around the fortunes of Jordan and Renault in recent years has earned him an impressive reputation and, as Anthony Rowlinson found out, he is not shying away from similar ambitious goals with Toyota.

Gascoyne ready to show his worth

This year's TF105, which was unveiled in Barcelona at the weekend, will be a crunch car for Gascoyne - because it is the first that has been designed under his entire leadership at the team. There will no longer be any excuses about the outfit's form - especially because in theory it has the budget, the technical staff and the drivers to succeed.

Such hype, however, is of no worry to Gascoyne. He is ready for the challenge and confident that the work he has done behind the scenes at Toyota over the last 12 months will pay dividends.

I don't really feel any. I'm probably more relaxed than I've ever been, although of course there's always pressure to perform - and it's only right and proper that there should be. This is Formula 1, after all. When I signed to come here, Toyota was eighth in the championship and I was at a team that was winning races, and they will expect me to deliver something. I put pressure on myself to design a car that can win races - that's my job. But there's no nervousness. Experience teaches us the level that we need to perform at in terms of design. I'm pretty comfortable that it's going to be a competitive car.

When you come to a team and find there are things to change, you have to build foundations first and, while you're doing that, you're not obviously achieving any gains in terms of performance. What you are doing though is building for the future. That's the process we have been going through at Toyota. We've had to do a lot of work in the wind tunnel and in finite analysis and get those right. You don't see anything when you're putting things right, but you have to get the basics right. I'm confident that we are getting the basics right.

The regulation changes are very exciting. It levels the playing field a great deal. I like major changes in aero, because it gives you a chance to show you can do your job and in our case to catch up with the competition. If you are just honing a concept every year, the sport can get a bit static. It's good to mix things up. When the changes are like this, who knows what will happen?

Look, the front wing has moved up, but it's still a front wing in pretty much the same place. The rear wing might have moved forward a bit and the diffuser dimensions have changed, but it's still a Formula 1 car. We've had a lot of people thinking hard about how to get around the regulation changes and they've done a lot of hard work. I'm pleased with what they've been able to achieve.

The changes to the tyres will change the strategy of the race weekend. It will be very interesting and will mix things up. We will see changes in terms of race pace: tyres will limit the lap times. People are bound to struggle with long-life engines at first, too. That's another significant change. But the nature of F1 is that we're all striving to improve the car. That's what makes F1 unique

Both drivers are very quick, that's certain, and they are proven race winners. If anything has been said against them it's that they don't do it consistently enough. Ralf has been able to dominate but then failed to be able to produce that level of performance again. I think it's about making drivers operate comfortably enough to perform. A prickly team-mate like the one he had does not make him feel particularly comfortable.

Jarno is the perfect team-mate for him. He's fantastically quick and one of the fastest drivers out there over a single lap. And he's not in the least bit political, which is ideal for Ralf. He won't wind Ralf up but he will really push him in terms of pure speed. Jarno, for his part, has a team-mate who has proven success, is extremely consistent in term of race speed and is established in the top echelon. That gives him something to aim at. Ralf is very good at looking after tyres and that's going to be vital this year. The whole team is looking forward to working with them both.

We have changed the way the team works and improved the communications. As Harvey Postlethwaite used to say: "Any idiot can design a Formula 1 car. The trick is making a quick one." Where Toyota was falling down was in prioritising the parts of the car that made it a quick one. Last year it was well made and well raced, but my key job this year is to make sure it's quicker.

We have to get after BAR, McLaren etc. there's no reason why we should not be able to do as good a job as they do. The regulation changes make it more interesting and I'm confident in how we are going to perform, I'm confident in the car we've done and I'm confident in our development programme. Look at what happened in 2001 with Renault. I'm very confident in what Toyota are going to start doing. Toyota came into F1 as a top team. We're not a Jordan or a Minardi, so we have to operate at the level of a top team.

It's not a totally new car, it's a development. It's important to put your effort into the things that give you performance. If you look at teams like Ferrari now and Williams when they were dominating, they didn't come out with radical new cars every year. They evolved what they knew was a successful, winning formula. You can waste a lot time pursuing new development paths when in fact what you should be doing is concentrating on the bits of your car that don't work and leaving alone the bits that are okay. Keeping that focus is a very key part of my job. The car has changed because of the regulation, but it's an evolution. The trick is to know which bits to change. There's no fundamental change to the wheelbase, weight distribution, or other key dimensions,

It would be a brave man who said Ferrari has got it wrong. Coming out early means we can focus on mechanical reliability but it also means we had to freeze development of the car at an early stage. Having said that we will have more testing time to develop the aero package. The car will look very different by the time you see it in Melbourne. A lot of what you see on it now will be scrap.

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