Toyota has 'one of the best driver line-ups in Formula 1' in Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, Tadashi Yamashima has contended – now it is up to the team to provide them with the tools to do the job and challenge for victory.
Yamashima-san was appointed team principal of the big-budget Japanese manufacturer's F1 operation two years ago, and last season he presided over a significant improvement on the Cologne-based concern's 2007 form, when it had failed to better a sixth place finish from 17 starts.
In 2008 the results came on by practically a quantum leap, with Trulli achieving the outfit's first rostrum finish in 40 outings in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, and Glock going one spot better just over a month later in Hungary. It has been, Yamashima-san acknowledged, an emotional and rewarding journey – but equally one that is far from over yet.
“Challenge is the right word,” he agreed of his tenure at the squad, “because succeeding in Formula 1 is not easy; that was clear to me very quickly after joining the team. This is a much more emotional job than anything I have experienced in the past, because we experience such highs and lows together in a public environment 17 times a season. I really enjoy that aspect of Formula 1.
“Sometimes I am very emotional at the track, and I think this surprises some of the team members. They are not familiar with seeing a team principal kicking things in the garage when races do not go well, but I get really involved in the racing and when we are doing well I am cheering in the garage.
“I think it helps motivate the team to see that their hard work is appreciated, and it shows that everyone in the team cares deeply about our performance. I hope there will be a lot more cheering in our garage this season!
“Of course I was happy to see such a big improvement on the previous seasons [in 2008], and it was very satisfying to be back on the podium and the front row of the grid. However, we want more than this – we want to be fighting for wins and the world championship.
“We had some great weekends, but we must also remember the weekends where things did not go as well for us. The TF108 was generally a reliable car, but still we lost quite a few points due to retirements and we cannot be happy about that. Our target is 100 per cent reliability, and we worked to develop counter-measures to move us closer to this target.
“I am sure Jarno and Timo are the right drivers for us this season. In my opinion Toyota has one of the best driver line-ups in Formula 1, and I am excited to see what they can do with the TF109. Both drivers proved last season that if we give them a competitive car they are capable of fighting with the best drivers in the world, so our challenge this year is to deliver a car which will allow them to do this more often. This is our goal and we will never give up.”