Having threatened to cause an upset around Fuji Speedway right from Friday afternoon practice, Toyota ultimately had to settle for just the fourth row on the grid for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, after mysteriously falling back when it mattered the most.
Despite having never competed at Fuji before, Timo Glock has been on fine form from the word 'go', outpacing all 19 of his rivals to shoot to the top of the timing screens in FP2 and winding up less than a tenth of a second away from the top spot in FP3. The young German went on to surprise further with the quickest time of all in Q1, and backed team-mate Jarno Trulli up as the two TF108s remained strong in Q2, in fourth and fifth positions respectively.
The top ten shoot-out, though, yielded just seventh and eighth places for the pair – in Trulli's favour – but with both only around three tenths shy of the second row of the grid and confident in their fuel loads for the race, the experienced Italian remains optimistic of a return to pre-Q3 form come race day.
“We've done quite a good job overall this weekend preparing for qualifying and the race,” the 34-year-old stated. “I had to make some adjustments during the first part of qualifying, but in the end fortunately I got the set-up right. That meant that I could find the right balance and get back on the pace.
“In Q2 I was fourth and Timo was fifth, so it shows that the Toyotas are going well. Q3 was a bit of a mystery, because as soon as we put the fuel in, the car was rather unbalanced and we lost a lot of grip.
“I wasn't so happy about the pace in Q3, but maybe it's down to the different fuel levels. Now we must go for a strong result for everyone here in front of our own fans, and we must fight really hard until the end tomorrow.”
“We have to be happy with how qualifying went in the end,” reflected Glock, barely a tenth adrift of his team-mate in the final reckoning. “This morning's rain didn't really help us, because we would have liked to have had more rubber on the asphalt. Instead it was quite low grip, but still Q1 was quite easy – I was quickest and I had a really good feeling.
“However, after that we struggled to get the most out of the softer tyre on heavy fuel and we are slightly further back than we'd hoped. There are a couple of places where you can overtake here, though, so let's see what happens tomorrow.
“What is great is the home support we've had here. There are so many Toyota fans, and now we have both cars in the top ten we have a good chance to get both cars into the points.”