Q & A with Timo Glock

While all the talk about dark horse contenders for victory in the Australian Grand Prix is dominated by Brawn GP, deeper analysis of what has happened over the winter shows that Toyota could also be set to stage a surprise this season

Q & A with Timo Glock

With the team having openly set a target of winning its first race, the new TF109 certainly appears to have given the Cologne-based outfit a fighting chance of living up to its expectations.

So ahead of the Melbourne encounter, AUTOSPORT caught up with Timo Glock to talk about the hopes for the season, how he feels he has developed as a driver and why team mate Jarno Trulli still amazes him with his qualifying speed.

Q. You must be feeling quite confident about this weekend after what has been quite a promising winter for Toyota?

Timo Glock: Yes it was not too bad. We had a strong winter of testing, and it doesn't look too bad. But testing every time produces some question marks and you never know what the other guys are doing. At the moment though it looks really tight. Brawn GP looks at the moment like they are on top, and all the rest like Ferrari, BMW Sauber, ourselves, Red Bull and Renault, we look really close together. It will be quite an interesting start to the season I think.

Q. How did you feel pre-season testing went?

TG: Yeah, I have to say that the pace was quite promising. Straight out of the pits with the first test we found some good speed, and the car was really reliable. We did a lot of miles in Bahrain and Spain, so I think the positive thing is that on different tracks it is good and in wet conditions it is good. This is a good sign, and the team did good development work over the winter time.

Q. Jarno Trulli has said the TF109 is the best Toyota he has ever driven - and is very confident with it. Do you share the same positive feelings about the car?

TG: Yeah, definitely. For Jarno, he has a bit more experience at Toyota and drove a couple more cars, but definitely it is an improvement from last year. When I look back to last season's winter testing, it was much more difficult for me to get used to the car. Also with the slick tyres it is a big improvement for me. The car itself is quite stable and a big improvement overall. So it is quite positive.

Q. A lot of people are saying Toyota can do well this season. What's your reaction to that?

TG: I hope it's true! It's positive when other people are already saying we are at a strong level at the moment, but for me Brawn GP is on top. They look really strong, and with Ross Brawn on top - he has won world championships with Michael Schumacher so he knows exactly what he has to do. This is the team to watch out for.

Q. How uncertain are you then of where you stand in that group behind Brawn?

TG: I would say for me it is difficult to analyse the winter testing. But Brawn GP went out in Barcelona and were straight on the pace, and they were quick over a long run as well from what we could see on the lap times. It looks like they are a little bit ahead of the pack slightly, and after that I don't know if we are the second team or if Ferrari are slightly quicker than us. It is all mixed up and it depends as well a little bit on the circuit.

But it looks quite promising for us this year, and that is positive. We took the development curve, what we had in the second half of last season where we made a lot of progress, we took it over in the winter time and the team did a strong performance to adapt the car to the new rules. It looks quite positive and the team itself looks really strong as well at the moment.

Q. You have got the same team mate again this year. What are your feelings on Jarno?

TG: Yeah, the bloody guy is still unbelievably quick! Especially in qualifying, he is amazing. When he struggles on the Friday to set-up his car, or has problems, in qualifying for this one lap he is there every time. I had a couple of races last year where I thought I had him in the qualifying, but then he would take another tenth out of me. But this is just experience, and you can see how he works through the weekend. His experience definitely helped me out over last year, and I put him under pressure in the second part of the season. But, now I have to push him straight on.

Q. What about your own development as a driver? You struggled with the grooved tyres at the start of last season but by the second half of the year you were much better and got that podium finish in Hungary. Do you feel you are still on that rate of improvement?

TG: Yeah definitely. When I remember back to last year here at Melbourne, the start of the season, I didn't really know what was going on over a Grand Prix weekend. And now I am just more relaxed, and I have more experience.

I gained a lot of experience from struggling with the tyres and struggling with the car at the beginning of the year. That was just a positive experience to work through that difficult situation at the start, and work my way up in the team as well and really get on well with my engineer. We found a way to make the car quick for me and my driving style, and now it looks much better.

Q. Talking of the Australian Grand Prix, What are your memories of last year's race - and that sizeable accident you had?

TG: It happened too quickly for me to realise what was happening. I just was trying to push as hard as possible to stay in front of Kimi Raikkonen, and I just overshot it a bit on that corner. I went off there once in free practice without any problems, but then I hit this big bump. And then Flight TF108 went up into the sky!

Q. What is the latest on KERS? Are you going to run it soon, or are you going to wait a bit longer?

TG: No, we will wait. The important thing for us is that we wanted to adapt the new car to the new rules, to sort it out 100 per cent, and there was not much testing in winter time. So we said we wanted to have the car ready for the first race and then we will see. KERS is running back in Cologne, and we will put it in when it is the right time for it.

Q. Do you feel pressure to win for Toyota this season?

TG: Okay, the pressure is on every time I would say. For sure this year we want to win for the first time, and we have a good possibility to do that. The pressure is on every time in F1. I had it last year too after a bad start, maybe even more than this year, and to deliver the results last year was not easy and now, for my confidence level, it looks quite positive. So the pressure is on, but this is normal in F1.

Q. The diffuser issue has been bubbling away all winter, but now looks like it will reach a head in Melbourne this weekend with a potential protest on the cards. Is that a worry for you?

TG: For me, I cannot really comment on that. I have to be 100 per cent concentrated on my job and the rest is up to a decision made by other people.

Q. The FIA has announced that it is to lower the superlicence fees for 2010 following a meeting with the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA). Are you happy with that outcome?

TG: Yes, definitely. Now I can score more points and I can pay for the superlicence still! This is a point where the GPDA did quite good work. We all accepted it for this year but the point is exactly what we said in interviews - NASCAR drivers pay $4000 for their superlicence and Lewis [Hamilton] has to pay something like $260,000 and there is no reason to do that at a level like this. For me it was not acceptable, but in the end we need the superlicence to drive in F1.

Q. How have things been for you since the Brazilian Grand Prix?

TG: First of all, unfortunately I had to talk to a lot of journalists after the last race because it was quite a difficult situation for me. At the end I was a little bit involved in the championship decision and that was quite a crazy time I must say. The first two weeks after were really hard, because in a strange way a lot of German fans were quite unhappy about that. In the end, we did our best in the race and were just lost in the last lap with the grooved tyres in the wet conditions.

Q. So what would be a good result for you coming out of this weekend?

TG: It would be great to be on the podium or even win the first race - it would be a dream. I just try and do 100 per cent. I want to come out of this weekend with the same feeling that we had over the tests - that we are in a strong position and that we have a good potential to develop the car over the year. The dream would be when you can interview me on Sunday night as the race winner of the Australian Grand Prix!

Q. Do you feel Toyota is ready to win now as a team?

TG: I think the people are really motivated, and they have been since last year - especially the second half. From the first test with the new car everybody has been really strong, everybody is up to speed at the moment and everybody really wants that first win for Toyota.

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