Toyota aiming for podium

Toyota aiming for podium

Now entering its third year in Formula One, Toyota's goal for 2004 is podium positions. The best finish for the team so far was Olivier Panis' fifth in Germany last season and Toyota finished sixth in the constructors' standings. Vice president ...

Now entering its third year in Formula One, Toyota's goal for 2004 is podium positions. The best finish for the team so far was Olivier Panis' fifth in Germany last season and Toyota finished sixth in the constructors' standings. Vice president Akihiko Saito believes this season will see Toyota move into the ranks of serious challengers.

Olivier Panis.
Photo by Toyota Racing.
"It will be our third F1 season and we are starting to feel that we are gradually recognised as an F1 player. This year, we will aim at a podium position," Saito said at a press conference.

"We have faced many challenges during the previous seasons and stayed in large part just another challenger. We are still a challenger but this year we hope to take a big step forward and really be part of the F1 community."

Toyota continues with drivers Panis and Cristiano da Matta in 2004 but there have been changes within the team. Principal Ove Andersson retired at the end of last season and Tsutomu Tomita took over the position. Former Renault man Mike Gascoyne is now Toyota's technical director and Tomita believes that Gascoyne's input will make a difference.

"What's going for us this year is the experience of Mike Gascoyne," said Tomita. "He has already given us many suggestions about mechanical design, race strategies and race techniques. I believe our machines for the next season (2005) should reflect input from Mike Gascoyne."

"I have to admit our new cars are not necessarily the fastest. But they are achieving our goals and are running faster than our previous models. We are looking forward to the opening of the new season."

Toyota is currently testing at Valencia in Spain with da Matta and test driver Ricardo Zonta behind the wheel.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Ricardo Zonta , Mike Gascoyne , Akihiko Saito , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Toyota Racing