Ralf targets podiums with Toyota

Ralf Schumacher has targeted podium finishes with Toyota by the end of the 2005 season. The German, who quit BMW Williams to join the Japanese manufacturer at the end of last season, believes the new Mike Gascoyne-designed TF105 has the potential to break the team free of its midfield shackles

Ralf targets podiums with Toyota

Despite an operating budget reputed to be larger than any team other than Ferrari, Toyota has yet to place a driver on the podium after three years competing in Formula 1. But Schumacher reckons that the car is a significant step ahead of its predecessor and that top-three finishes are a genuine target.

"It's a rather interesting situation with my new team," Schumacher said at the launch of Toyota's 2005 challenger in Barcelona on Saturday. "It's certainly not realistic to say we will win straight away but the long-term potential is very strong.

"The car we have here is very different from the one you will see in Melbourne. There will be a lot of development throughout the season.

"It's very difficult to say where we are at the moment because we are the first team with a new car, but if everything runs to plan there is no reason why we can't score podiums.

Schumacher also confirmed that he is revelling in his new role within Toyota after a difficult final season with Williams which saw him sit out six races after he sustained a back injury in a crash during the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

"It's a different kind of pressure that you have here than I had at Williams," he said. "The pressure here is to try and realise the potential of what the team can do, which they haven't yet been able to achieve.

"It's a bit different in terms of the methodology. That's not to say one is any better than the other. It's just different. I think the Toyota way is a little bit more suited to the way I work. I got very used to handling pressure during the past six years at Williams."

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