The German Grand Prix saw the race debut of Panasonic Toyota Racing's updated TF104B car, the product of months of hard work at Toyota Motorsport's factory in Cologne.

The team identified at an early stage of the season that the standard TF104 suffered from a lack of aerodynamic downforce, which resulted in poor grip levels, particularly at those circuits which demand higher downforce settings.

Thus, a plan was set in place with Mike Gascoyne - chassis technical Director - to upgrade the TF104 in time for the Hockenheim race, the twelfth round of the 2004 World Championship, with work centred predominantly on aerodynamics and a weight reduction.

In addition to the new chassis, Luca Marmorini - engine technical director - and his team worked flat out to anticipate the introduction of a new specification RVX-04 engine, which was originally scheduled for a Monza debut, to further boost the competitiveness of the car.

Visual differences between the TF104 and TF104B could be seen from a new-spec front wing, as well as a heavily-modified nose cone with a narrower profile.

The TF104B engine cover featured smaller exhaust chimneys, lower aero extensions on the sidepod, and most notably the introduction of cooling chimneys, rather than the traditional "shark fins", which have appeared in varying forms on all of Toyota's F1 cars.

Internal improvements, unseen by the eye, also resulted in a performance gain with a lower weight, lower centre of gravity monocoque. The revisions to the chassis were so substantial that the monocoque required a rehomologation by the FIA.

The TF104B chassis was completed in time for a shake-down at a four-day test session at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain in the week prior to the German Grand Prix, but the majority of new aero parts did not make their debut until Friday's free practice session.

This fact in itself made Panasonic Toyota Racing's task in Hockenheim more challenging, as it endeavoured to test all new parts, find the optimum set-up on its revised race car, as well as completing the usual Friday tyre evaluation programme.

Rather than succumb to the temptation of performance-related running on Friday, the team treated the practice sessions as a test run, condensing a week's worth of assessment into just two hours of track time.

This laid a strong foundation for the rest of the weekend, although the eventual race results were a big disappointment for Toyota.

From ninth on the grid, Olivier Panis was unable to get off the start line and was forced to drop to last place, which left him battling with backmarkers for most of the race. His team-mate Cristiano da Matta also suffered with traffic, but both drivers showed encouraging pace in the TF104B when they had a free track. Panis set the fourth quickest lap of the race, which bodes well for future development of the updated car. Da Matta endured a tough afternoon after his rear-right tyre punctured with 28 laps of the race remaining.

All in all, the German GP was a difficult inauguration for the TF104B, but the team demonstrated the car's potential during the course of the weekend and remains confident for future development and success.