Toyota was the first of the Formula One teams to reveal its 2007 challenger when the TF107 was launched at the Expo XX1 conference centre in Cologne on January 12th. The car, featuring the familiar red and white livery, is almost completely new as hardly anything of its predecessor has been carried through into the 2007 design.
Unsurprisingly much of the chassis is designed to optimise the aerodynamics, while the monococque is now higher than before. The suspension has been modified and the engine moved forward, and with its longer gearbox Toyota will run a seamless shift for the first time this season.
"We have addressed reliability this year," President John Howett said, in regard to problems the team suffered in 2006. "We have resolved issues like the launch system, which we fixed at the end of last season, and which cost us dearly. We're improving the car, flat out, all the time. So I think we have the potential to win this year, and I'm disappointed that we didn't deliver it in 2006."
Toyota continues its philosophy of 'kaizen', or continuous development, with the TF107. "We have a roll-out version, we will have a completely new aero package for the first race, and then a second major upgrade coming quite early in the season, just after the flyaway races," said chassis senior manager Pascal Vasselon.
"Then we will of course develop race specific packages, high downforce, low to mid downforce, and the Monza package. Apart from these major milestones, the norm will be to bring upgrades to every single race."
As for the RVX-07 engine, the FIA's forthcoming engine homologation influenced the development. Any modifications on the rev-limited engines for 2007 had to be lodged with the FIA mid-December. "We had to have it fully clear in our minds what this engine would look like," said engine senior manager Luca Marmorini. "After Brazil mostly we could work on car installation details, auxiliary layout, those sort of areas."
"There is some re-tuning allowed, due to the fact that this engine now can only rev to 19,000rpm. So there was some work on port geometry, the valve and the valve lift profile, the combustion chamber, the piston shape, and to a degree we could work with the oil flow in the engine, to adapt this for reliability reasons."
Toyota's race driver partnership of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli continues in 2007 and the pair is joined this year by test and reserve driver Franck Montagny. Schumacher believes that the team was on an upward trend towards the end of last season and, naturally, he hopes that forward momentum will still be there.
"A lot of things have been changed on the car, especially in the way it has been developed," he said of the TF107. "I am positive about how they were managed. We kept calm and sorted out the issues we had last year. The signs are good, and we seem to be heading in the right direction."
"Engine-wise we are pretty much there, and the reliability issues we had last year are being worked on. We will have some mechanical changes, an upgrade in the gearbox, and things like that, so we will get a car more optimised. And I am sure aero-wise we have gained a lot. Those are the key factors."
2007 is Toyota's 50th year in motorsport and Trulli is happy to be part of the family. "I think I'm part of the history, because I actually gained the first pole position and the first podium for Toyota," said the Italian. "My target is to get the first victory, and if I can, the first championship! I really feel part of the company and family. It's an important target this year, and I hope we can mark this target with some good showings and good performances."
Teams will no longer be permitted to run a third car in the Friday practice sessions on race weekends so Montagny's role will be a little different. "The regulations and the testing agreement have changed again but I think we are going to adapt well and do our best, like we do all the time," he commented. "We will push 100% and see what happens. I am here to help the team, I am here to support the two race drivers and I will do my job as I am asked."
Toyota intends to be on the offensive from the start of the season and is still seeking that maiden win. "Our fundamental challenge this year is to get the first victory," said Chairman and team principal Tsutomu Tomita. "We announced that a year ago, but we failed to succeed in 2006. And therefore we want to repeat that challenge in 2007."
"I know all the other teams are working very hard, particularly the top three. We have five years experience in F1, but still we are young in comparison with the top teams, therefore we have to be modest about it. But we would like to challenge them. I'm very, very positive about this, and I personally think we should attack from round one."
TF107 Technical Specifications
Monocoque: construction Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb construction
Fuel tank: ATL safety cell
Front suspension: Carbon fibre double wishbone arrangement, with carbon fibre trackrod and pushrod.
Rear suspension: Carbon fibre double wishbone arrangement, with carbon fibre toe link and pushrod.
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza
Brake callipers: Brembo
Brake master cylinders: Brembo
Braking material: Hitco (carbon/carbon)
Steering: Toyota power-assisted steering
Steering wheel: Toyota carbon fibre wheel with Toyota / Magneti Marelli instrument
Drivers seat: Carbon fibre construction, moulded to driver's shape
Driver restraints: Takata
Driver HANS device: Toyota design
Electronic systems: Toyota / Magneti Marelli
Transmission: 7-speed unit plus reverse
Overall length: 4530mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Overall weight: 600kg including driver and camera
RVX-07 Technical Specifications
Number of cylinders: 8
Horsepower: Approximately 740bhp
Revolutions: Maximum 19,000rpm, as required by FIA rules.
Valve actuation: Pneumatic
Throttle actuation: Hydraulic
Spark Plugs: DENSO