Toyota is 'hungry to win and ready to win' in Formula 1 in 2009 - that was the firm message from the big-budget Japanese manufacturer's motorsport president John Howett as the new TF109 was launched in Cologne today.

In an era of such great technological upheaval - designed to significantly reduce expenditure in the top flight over the next two years - Howett argues Toyota has a real opportunity to break its duck after 123 races since making its debut back in 2002. The Englishman contends that heading into the new campaign, the team is 'stronger than ever' from all that it has learned during its time in F1 - and ready and eager to prove all of its doubters wrong.

"The goal for me is clear," he underlined. "We want to win our first race. To put ourselves in the best possible position to fight for our first victory, we need to be consistently challenging for the podium and scoring big points regularly.

"We are hungry to win and ready to win; there should be no doubt about that. The new regulations pose an extra challenge, but at the same time offer an opportunity. I believe the risks and opportunities associated with a major regulation change are the same for every team.

"There are no excuses; we have the chance to turn our potential into success if we do our job properly - but that is broadly the same every season. Overall I think the regulation change has a neutral effect when it comes to who succeeds and who doesn't.

"We have everything we need to win; we have some exceptionally talented people and huge motivation to succeed, so now it is down to us to actually make it happen. We have learned a tremendous amount over the past seven years, and that has helped us become a more cohesive and consolidated team.

"Obviously we are much more experienced now compared to the team's early years in Formula 1, and that means we have an ever-expanding database of knowledge to give us a better understanding of what drives track performance. We are also a team which is constantly striving to improve in every area; this organisation is hungry to win, [and] I believe we are stronger than ever heading into the 2009 season."

Howett was also effusive in his praise for the driving line-up of experienced former Monaco Grand Prix winner Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, who impressed many during the course of his first full season at the pinnacle of the sport last year. In a period in which little is remaining the same, continuity on this front at least, the Englishman suggests, cannot be underestimated.

"We are very happy with both Jarno and Timo," he stated, "because they provide an ideal balance of experience and youth. It was very satisfying to see a strong spirit of co-operation between them last season, and there is no doubt that played a part in driving our performance forward.

"We have two very quick drivers who proved clearly last year that they can qualify well, race hard, defend strongly and overtake, so we were delighted with their performances. In addition, they are fun to work with, so that makes life easier for everybody."

Following fellow Japanese outfit Honda's sudden and shock withdrawal from F1 last month - in reaction to poor car sales caused by the current global credit crunch - many within the paddock surmised that Toyota would be the next to go, in the light of how much it has invested financially into the sport over the past seven years for a return of just eight podium finishes. Howett is adamant that - for the time being at least - there is no cause for concern.

"Commercially this team has a strong future," the 56-year-old insisted. "The key issue is whether Formula 1 continues to deliver the value and return on investment that Toyota expects. If it remains the pinnacle of motorsport and a genuine technological challenge, then I can see a long and bright future for the team.

"If the sport is dumbed down too much, or too many standard components are forced into the system, Formula 1 could become just another racing series. That would leave it as only a sponsorship opportunity and I believe interest would drop rapidly, but FOTA (the Formula One Teams' Association, of which Howett is a leading representative) has achieved significant cost reductions while retaining the DNA of Formula 1, and this is extremely beneficial in the current economic climate.

"These are positive, decisive measures which will significantly reduce costs while retaining the DNA of Formula 1 - and that was very important to Toyota. FOTA members worked hard to achieve this; there was a universal determination to make genuine progress through co-operation and constructive dialogue, so we are satisfied with the process and the results. We are also delighted the FIA World Motor Sport Council acted quickly and positively to endorse the proposals.

"The global economy affects everyone. Most sports will be affected in some form; that is inevitable when you have a global economic trend such as this. However, I believe Formula 1 is in a strong position because of its global reach.

"If a sport is focused on a very narrow geographical area, it will be very vulnerable in this climate, but different regions are affected in different ways and to different extents so both Toyota and Formula 1 are, in my opinion, relatively less exposed to the risk. In fact, there is no reason why we should not consolidate or even continue to grow the popularity of Formula 1 in the coming years.

"I think all teams are managing with fewer resources, and that doesn't apply only to Formula 1; it is happening across the board in motorsport. It is vitally important to have a detailed knowledge of what is driving costs, then you need to be able to prioritise the areas which bring value or performance.

"In addition, a lean company must have a culture of waste reduction and constant improvement. Happily, these are all factors which Toyota puts particular emphasis on, even in prosperous times. We have been very fortunate to enjoy tremendous support from long-term partners such as Panasonic and Denso. It is a partnership between some of the world's great corporations. We share very similar values and a passion for cutting-edge technology.

"Both Panasonic and Denso provide us with some of the most advanced technology available, and they make a very real contribution to our success on the track. We are delighted to extend our title partnership agreement with Panasonic, taking it up to the ten-year anniversary of our time in Formula 1. We are honoured to have such loyal partners and long may these partnerships continue. In addition to this we are also able to attract new partners, and this year we are very pleased to welcome Chiemsee and RE/MAX to the team.

"I am confident we are in good shape. The basic principles of the Toyota Way will help us pass through this difficult time and emerge a stronger and more competitive organisation."


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