Panasonic Toyota Racing Technical Director Gustav Brunner talks about how the team has improved, the pace of the TF102, Mika Salo and Allan McNish and a lot, lot more:

Q:
Has the pace of the TF102 surprised you?

Gustav Brunner:
Yes. We are going quicker than we ever expected and that has taken us a bit by surprise! I don't think it's down to us; it's because the first three overseas races do not give the other teams the chance to develop their cars at the rate they can when they are back racing in Europe.

Q:
What was your brief when you set out to build TF102?

GB:
To build a conservative car, although nothing is that conservative in F1. The original aim was to make it onto the grid - positions 21 and 22 and no more. Our most conservative area is aerodynamics. When we were designing this car we had to constantly travel back and forth to Lola's wind tunnel in England because our own tunnel in Cologne only got up and running at the time of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Q:
Is there anything on TF102 from last year's test car?

GB:
No, we started from new. Everything on TF102 is completely new.

Q:
Have there been many developments on the car?

GB:
When we rolled it out in January, the aerodynamics were not good. We then had some good shifts in the wind tunnel and came up with a couple of improvements before Australia that saved the day. This weekend in San Marino will be the first time that we make an aerodynamic step forward, when we will introduce some new front wing and new rear wing elements to the car.

Q:
Have expectations been raised in the team since the start of the season?

GB:
We are all very relaxed here. There is no pressure. Toyota has its clear long-term targets and we will try to keep to them. But, obviously, we want to achieve them sooner-rather-than-later.

Q:
How does the set-up at Toyota compare with Ferrari?

GB:
We have over 550 people working in Cologne on the F1 project. As far as structure and set-up go, we are still a long way away from the big teams, even though we build our own engine and chassis.

Q:
Where do you think your engine is relative to the opposition?

GB:
The engine has proven to be quite reliable so far this year, which is good. In comparison to the opposition I do not really know. It is very difficult to say, but at this moment it is looking quite good.

Q:
Is part of your job description to build up the design team?

GB:
It's not my responsibility as such, but I do advise our management on this. Team building can be even more difficult than building a good car - and the bigger the team, the harder it is to be a good team.

Q:
What can you achieve in the remainder of this year?

GB:
In F1 you are always chasing a moving target because everybody else is improving at the same time. But the next three months should not be so hard to make steps forward because we are still coming from behind. The hardest part will be the last section of the season because we will be at a higher level and the improvements will not be so easy. I will be very happy if we can qualify in the top 10 at every race.

Q:
How has the team improved so far this year?

GB:
Race day is still difficult - strategies, pitstops, that kind of thing. But Friday and Saturdays are now working quite well.

Q:
How do you rate Mika (Salo) and Allan (McNish)?

GB:
They are both fantastic team members, real hard workers. As a team we are thankful to them for their patience. If anything, I expected Mika to be a bit different because I didn't think he'd have the patience. But that is not the case.

Q:
How has Allan adapted to F1?

GB:
He has been in motor racing a long time, so he knows what he's doing. He's a real gentleman too!

Q:
And the chassis regulations remaining the same for the next two years?

GB:
That helps us. If there had been a completely new rule for next year, while we are still building up our team, it would have hit us quite hard.

Q:
Do you think F1 cars too fast or too slow at the moment?

GB:
We don't want to slow the cars, but we have safety issues to consider. The cars are currently overpowered for their level of grip, which is good for the show, so long as safety is okay. Car safety is pretty high now and it's the circuits that need to progress.