Howett Unruffled by Disappointing Results

Toyota boss John Howett was unruffled by his team's failure to turn their strong qualifying performances into race results, after another disappointing showing in the Japanese Grand Prix

Howett Unruffled by Disappointing Results

Ralf Schumacher powered to Toyota's second pole position of the season at Suzuka, but his three-stop strategy left him languishing down in eighth place at the end of the race. It follows similar struggles for decent race finishes after strong qualifying performances.

And despite the team failing to have followed through on the strong results they had at the start of the year, when Jarno Trulli took a string of podium finishes, Howett is adamant that Toyota should be proud of their achievements this year.

"Ultimately, if you had asked me in January, 'would you settle for fourth place in the Championship with three or four podiums?' the answer would have been undoubtedly," Howett said.

"We have achieved that and now we are looking to have a quicker, faster car next year. What we have on the (new) TF105B looks to be the right direction."

Howett insists that Toyota were not showboating in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix - even though Schumacher went into the race with a very light fuel load. Furthermore, the Toyota chief claims that the early race Safety Car period, caused after Juan Pablo Montoya crashed on the opening lap, effectively ended the team's chances of battling for a podium place.

"I think we were unlucky with the Safety Car," he said. "We thought three stops was very quick. I don't think we would have won the race but probably third or fourth was feasible with a bit of luck.

"But the main issue is that we have achieved the objectives this year. We have brought the 105B, we think this is the best fundamental direction for next year and we are learning a lot from that."

Looking ahead to 2006, Howett says Toyota's sights are set on the Championship itself - despite the huge media frenzy caused by the team pipping Japanese rivals Honda to the front grid slot at Suzuka.

"Everyone makes too much of this (Honda rivalry)," he added. "Maybe in Japan there is big rivalry but we ultimately want to win races and become Champions.

"So we have to look at Renault, we have to look at McLaren and, if you look on current pace, there are a couple of teams improving so we can't sleep.

"The biggest unknown is the engine change (to V8) for next year. It is a major difference and we sincerely believe reliability will be a big concern during the early races of next year."

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