Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Compared to some of the other teams, Toyota had a pretty quiet season. They weren’t racing near the front too often, although a couple of lucky podiums saw them pick up some decent points. By the same token, they weren’t really showing up with poor performance and kept out of the headlines that way, as well.
Jarno Trulli has a lot of F1 experience, and fits in to the Toyota team well. He’s quiet and keeps his head down, racing for points and generally not for wins. He picked up one third place on the podium, when he needed it most, and wanted to tribute the trophy to the late Ove Andersson – a manager instrumental to Toyota’s F1 programme.
Timo Glock is early in his career, and managed to pick up a lucky second place in Hungary. He spent a lot of the season learning about the car, though, picking up racing experience and generally trying to blend in. Unfortunately for him, Glock will be remembered for his part in the Brazilian season finale. It’s clear that he couldn’t have helped what happened on the last lap, and my guess is he wasn’t even aware what part he was playing in the championship battle. The controversy that sprung up afterwards, speculating on whether he slowed on purpose, will not have helped his profile, but most in the sport will know that it wasn’t a big conspiracy theory.
With Honda’s exit from Formula 1, there’s speculation that Toyota could be next. The team have never really done well, and have also never shown the enthusiasm for racing that other’s have. They’ve always quietly got on with the job in hand, and never seemed as though Formula 1 was important to them. However, the team has issued a statement saying they are committed to the sport, and we should see them on the grid next year.
Whether they will be any good is hard to say. The regulations are changing so vastly that it’s hard to tell who will improve or slowly fall down the grid. The chances are that Toyota will remain as they are at the moment – a very strong midfield competitor, happy to pick up some points here and there, and give their sponsors the visibility they desire. Winning a Grand Prix would be a giant leap for them, but it’s not impossible.