Gascoyne: “wait and see”

Mike Gascoyne, technical director in charge of what many assume to be the biggest budget in Formula 1, is keen to show what he has achieved when the team unveils their new aerodynamic kit for the first time today in Barcelona.

Gascoyne: “wait and see”

The car, which will be shared between race drivers Jarno Trulli (this morning) and Ralf Schumacher (this afternoon), is a big step forward from the car seen at the team's official launch earlier this year. Gascoyne told autosport.com: "Everything is different - even panels bonded on the sidepods have been taken off. There is a new undertray, new rear bodywork, new brake ducts, new drums, new nosebox, new front wing, new plates, new turning vanes, so apart from the monocoque everything else is new.

"We've made full use of the resources we have. For sure people are going to update their car, but no one is gong to be able to do it to this extent. I know the resources at Renault, and they do not have recourse to do that. People are looking at our car and saying the Toyota looks very standard, but they haven't seen our car yet. You'll see our Melbourne spec car, and then we have totally different car in Malaysia."

Toyota has underperformed since arriving in F1 relative to their budget, and Gascoyne has signaled his intent to turn this around. The team has been told by the car manufacturer's head office that they must achieve at least podium finishes this year, which means the relatively modest times that have been seen from the German based team in winter testing need to be turned around.

"We've had issues such as tyre degradation," Gascoyne acknowledged. "We have to improve on that - given the car we launched I don't think we look to be very competitive, and if you look Williams and BAR are within a second of Renault and McLaren. I would say we have to make a reasonably big step forward [with the new car]."

Tyre degradation is an issue for all teams with the new regulations, and a number of teams are alternating tests between Barcelona and Valencia so as to measure tyre performance on different surfaces. The Barcelona circuit was recently repaved, removing two notorious bumps on turn one and four at the request of both the teams and their drivers, and reports indicate that the asphalt is now settled in and providing good feedback.

How are the tyre companies dealing with these issues, with less than three weeks until the start of the season? Gascoyne sees it this way: "It is difficult for the teams. Obviously for Michelin there are lots of teams testing, and the Michelins have had some changes (of structure), and are looking at compounds, casings, all those individual factors, and will then put them together quite late because they have a lot to deal with.

"I think they are still learning - the tyres are not what they are going to be in the race yet, but it is getting more consistent. We've done race simulations, but it all depends on the ultimate pace. Consistency will come, but I still think the trait is Bridgestone being consistent, maybe Michelin having initial edge but lacking in consistency. It is very difficult with Bridgestone running only one team - you really don't know what they are up to."

Toyota is supporting the new car programme today with Ricardo Zonta in a modified TF104B, and are one of seven teams running at the Spanish circuit. Full details of the sessions will be available this afternoon on Autosport.com.

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