It may have been due to the lack of other cars on track after the first corner pile-up in the Melboune Grand Prix, but Toyota nevertheless scored their first point in their first race when Mika Salo came home sixth. The team were very conservative in their expectations for their first ever Grand Prix and they hoped just to finish rather than predict they would score points.
Toyota Motorsport President Ove Anderson was delighted with the result but remained realistic. "It's beginners luck for sure," he said. "But we have scored the point and now we have something already under our belt. We never dreamed we could score a point here. We have to be realistic, of course. Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are beyond our grasp; but we hope to be able to compete with the midfield teams more and more as the season goes on. Scoring the point means that everyone is now probably expecting too much from us too soon and that's something we've tried to avoid so far. As long as we realise we have been very lucky then there is no problem."
Toyota qualified a highest of 14th which was respectable enough to silence some of their critics and Salo challenged the Minardi of Mark Webber in the final few laps of the race. It looked possible for the Finn to snatch fifth place from Webber until he went wide on turn three and spun. But he managed to keep the engine running and stayed in the race to gain that all important point.
The team now head to the Paul Ricard cicuit in France for private tests at the end of this week. They will continue to develop the TF102 and it's expected newly signed test driver Stephane Sarrazin will take to the track.