Toyota could win their first grand prix in 2009, reckons respected former Formula 1 designer Gary Anderson – but if they do, it is unlikely to be on their own merit.
The big-budget Japanese manufacturer has started no fewer than 123 races in the top flight since its entry back in 2002 without ever taking the chequered flag first – or even, to be fair, coming close. Jarno Trulli believes that in the TF109, Toyota has its best chance of victory yet [see separate story – click here
], but Anderson is somewhat more sceptical – about the chances of both the team and also its most experienced driver.
“Probably not,” he replied, when asked by Crash.net Radio
whether this year will finally be the one in which the Cologne-based outfit breaks its grand prix duck, “but I'm talking about winning a race on their own merit, going out there and being on pole position and dominating the race from the front. They could win a race because of other people not winning the race.
“Yes, the car's quick; it's always had that tendency to look reasonable at certain times during the years, but I just doubt that a company of that size can react to Formula 1 quickly enough – it's just too big and too cumbersome in my book.
“[Timo] Glock is a good driver – I have to say I rate him very highly. Trulli is obviously a very quick driver, but I think as an all-round driver Glock is potentially the man who could do it if it's going to be done. It would be nice to see him do it – because it's good to see young kids coming in and doing a good job – but I'm not sure that they're going to win on their own right this year. There will be a couple of podiums probably, but again it will be because other people have not done it.”
Anderson is a man with more than three decades' experience of competition in F1, and in his current capacity as an expert commentator on the sport he has been keeping a close eye on testing and preparations in the build-up to the forthcoming season. Just as he doubts whether the dramatic new technical and aerodynamic regulations will significantly boost Toyota's hopes of glory, he revealed that he is similarly unsure about the likelihood of Renault reclaiming its erstwhile title-challenging form with the new R29.
“It's quite interesting,” he reflected. “Somebody sent me what they classified as the ten ugliest cars ever built in the history of Formula 1, and I was very surprised that the new Renault was in that ten. It's not the prettiest-looking device in the world, I must admit, but it needs to be very quick if it's not pretty because they're the two things that patch each other up a bit.
“They were definitely struggling a bit with it when they hit the ground, and there have been lots of developments going on from then on. Are they quick enough? They pop up every now and again with speed, which is always a bit strange, because you can't really make a quick car go slow. Okay, you can put in a higher fuel load and all that stuff, but that just hurts the tyres.
“With a quick car normally, it's easy; you get in the car and you go round the track and you produce a lap time –you drive at 99 per cent and that's what happens. A slow car you're probably driving at 100 per cent, because it's a bit nasty to drive and it's inconsistent.