Q & A with Toyota's Pascal Vasselon

Conducted and provided by Toyota's press office.

Q & A with Toyota's Pascal Vasselon

Q. Are you satisfied with the TF109 so far?

Pascal Vasselon: We can only be satisfied with what has happened so far with the TF109. Our winter season programme went extremely well in terms of reliability and mileage. We have been able to complete a huge number of laps before the race season starts; in fact we are very close to what we did last year with two cars, despite the restrictions we have this season.

In terms of reliability we are very happy even if we are working hard to fix some small issues, as is always the case with a new car. In terms of performance as well we are satisfied, although obviously we are looking forward to seeing the pecking order when the racing starts. We have a quiet confidence we should be able to fight close to the front at the beginning of the season.

Q. Are the drivers happy with the TF109?

PV: Yes, the drivers have given very positive feedback. They are pleased with the drivability of this year's car; it is very easy to drive, very forgiving. Part of this is a consequence of the regulations which make this car less sensitive to disturbance but part of it is also because our aerodynamicists have done a good job at making the aero package less sensitive to wind and ride height.

Q. Has testing been compromised by bad weather in pre-season?

PV: Yes and no. Despite the restricted test days and bad weather we have achieved incredible mileage in 2009 pre-season testing - around 10,000 km. However, it could have been better because we had two disturbed test sessions; the first in Portugal when we spent a complete day in the pits and the second in Bahrain where two days were disrupted by a sandstorm. But the beauty of Bahrain is that when you have one valid test day the track is workable from 8am to 5.30pm without interruption.

That's why, despite these two disturbed days, we still achieved huge mileage in Bahrain. At this time of year the Bahrain circuit is suitable for testing for much longer than European tracks, where you have to wait until mid-morning for reasonable track temperatures and then in the late afternoon the temperature drops. We came back from Bahrain with no regrets; we did huge mileage and completed over 800km in one day alone.

Q. What was missing with the TF108? Why was it good but not a winner?

PV: The TF108 had no weakness, there was no problem to cure; the bottom line was we were missing some raw performance. We were reasonably competitive at the start of the season and we sustained a good development rate which kept us regularly in the points and around the podium.

Towards the end of the season we were really able to fight at the front and Sao Paulo was a good example when Jarno qualified second with more fuel than most drivers around him. Brazil was probably our best race last year in terms of raw speed because we were really on the pace of the winning cars.

Q. Will the order in Australia be essentially the same for the rest of the season?

PV: In pre-season everyone says we have to wait until Australia to understand where each team is, but really Melbourne is not totally representative. Historically Melbourne doesn't give a true picture of the hierarchy because it has a very specific track lay-out and asphalt. From a technical point of view we will assess our competitiveness after the first three races. That is when we know where we are and when we will make decisions about TF109 development and the development of the 2010 car.

Q. With no in-season testing, surely there will be fewer developments on the car this year?

PV: That is only partly true. For sure the testing ban makes some of the development more difficult. For example, the extensive track validation required for fundamental gearbox or suspension changes will not be possible any more so those changes would be a lot more difficult. With the TF109, these items have had the required mileage validation and we are not expecting major changes so it's no problem for us.

As we all know, the main performance driver in Formula 1 is aerodynamics and here development will go on. There are restrictions because of the agreement to limit aerodynamic capabilities but we will still see teams bringing updates to the track throughout the season.

These developments are quite straightforward to evaluate in Friday practice. So the relative performance of the cars will not be fixed this year and we will still see cars progressing at different rates during the season.

shares
comments
Q & a with Adrian Sutil

Previous article

Q & a with Adrian Sutil

Next article

Q & A with Timo Glock

Q & A with Timo Glock
Load comments
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Plus

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looked back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Plus

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz Jr. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021