Toyota technical director (engine) Luca Marmorini talks about the team's progress and about engine development Q: Luca, what has the mood been like in the factory after two podium finishes in a row? Luca Marmorini, Technical Director...
Toyota technical director (engine) Luca Marmorini talks about the team's progress and about engine development
Q: Luca, what has the mood been like in the factory after two podium finishes in a row?
Luca Marmorini: The fantastic results we achieved in Malaysia and Bahrain have brought a huge motivation to the whole team. The mood is tremendously upbeat and positive, but our expectations are now equally high. The next race in Imola is of course the first European race of the season and after a three-week break, the strongest teams arrive in Italy with big developments to their packages. It will be an important race to know exactly where we stand. Imola will be a good benchmark for performance during the first European race weekends.
Q: Have you adjusted your targets from just points to podiums?
LM: Realistically, we must keep our feet on the ground, even if in our heart we are thinking about how many podiums we can score this season. We must wait and see what Imola brings, but if we are strong in Imola then I believe we will have some other opportunities to repeat the performance we had in Malaysia and Bahrain. It would be great if we can get two cars in the points in Imola.
Q: Do you think Toyota can maintain its excellent results for the rest of the season?
LM: I am confident that there will be some tracks, like Malaysia and Bahrain, where we can perform well, but for the time being I am focussed on Imola, which has traditionally been a tough track for us. With renewed motivation and success, I am keen to see what we can do there. Talking about the engine, after a race like Bahrain with the tremendously hot conditions, I don't necessarily think that Imola will be a walk in the park for us!
Q: What upgrades are planned for the RVX-05?
LM: Because of the new regulations, we were not able to implement an engine upgrade for Imola, but we will definitely go to Spain with an engine evolution. There will be other subsequent developments with the next probably as soon as the European Grand Prix at the end of May.
Q: Regardless of the new two-race engine rule, how tough is Imola on the engine?
LM: Imola is not a particularly tough track in terms of wide open throttle percentage. It is also not especially hot, so cooling is not an issue. The difficulties come when running over the notorious kerbs because we have to be careful to control the engine rpm. It is easy to misuse the engine, but we have an efficient electronics system to help this.
During any race, there are uncertainties and unplanned events that may result in unexpected stress on the engine. Taking into consideration that our Imola engine has already completed a particularly tough race weekend, it will be even more important to take all possible preventative measures into account.
Q: How much effect do the race drivers have in controlling the use of the engine?
LM: We appreciate the care and attention that Ralf and Jarno drive the engine during the race weekend. With the new regulations the effect that the driver has over engine management is much higher than previously. A driver must always push in the race, but at some moments he may not need to overload the engine to maintain his pace. Our drivers are very clever and smart in doing this. The results we have acquired so far have also been due to their handling of the engine.
Q: To what extent have Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta contributed to engine development?
LM: Olivier and Ricardo have been fundamental in developing our RVX-05. During test sessions, we are mostly focussed on the reliability of the engine and that means collecting mileage and data in a variety of conditions. Their input and feedback is as vital as that of Ralf and Jarno.
Q: What feedback have you received from Jordan?
LM: So far our work with Jordan has run very smoothly. Our collaboration in the opening three races was a learning phase for both parties to understand how best to work together. We are really glad with the results we have reached. We are also sharing some results with them because the experience and data that is collected from Jordan can be used to improve the engine for Toyota and vice versa. Now we think that Jordan will come with chassis improvements and we are looking forward to supporting them with continued engine upgrades as well.
Q: How has your technical partner Esso contributed to development of the RVX-05?
LM: To extend the reliability of our engine, whilst retaining the level of performance requires not only a strong effort from the engine department in Cologne, but also a dedicated contribution from the fuel and lubricants supplier. The success we have seen so far this season has only been possible through an intensive collaboration with Esso. Oil is a key issue for engine reliability and we have worked strongly with Esso beyond the pure concept of engine performance.