Guest Author - Christine Blachford
After Ferrari's successful launch earlier this week, Toyota were the second car to release their 2009 car to the public. The team have embraced the cost cutting regimen that is being imposed on the sport, and decided to scrap a physical launch and do the entire thing online.
They set up a special website for the launch, and until the allotted time, it featured a countdown and a sillhouette of the car.
At 11am GMT on Thursday, the website became live and revealed it's contents. The front page features a movie style poster of the car and the three drivers - Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi. The latter was confirmed as the team's third driver for another year. The site also has a movie trailer for the car, which is actually rather good, plus video interviews and plenty of pictures of the new chassis. They're calling the whole concept, and the car, "The 2009 Contender."
The idea of an online launch is very accessible to fans, and it makes us feel a big part of the launch itself. Compared to scanning websites for news and pictures of a launch that is happening somewhere very far away, being online means Toyota can welcome everyone into the exciting day.
The livery is the biggest disappointment to most fans, as it remains white and red and very similar to previous years. In fact, it has barely changed since the team began in 2002, and is certainly now an identifiable brand.
For 2009, the team's main goal is to win a race. Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina stated when he took over that he had three years to get Toyota into shape. The first year he was learning, the second he was making changes, and by the third year he wanted to see some success. That is this year, and it's important that he makes it work.
For the drivers, both Glock and Trulli are determined to bring Toyota their first win. Trulli admits that it's time they started delivering for a team that has been in the sport for so many years. He says the pressure is no different for them than for anyone else, though, as every driver just wants to win.
The launch also saw title sponsor Panasonic extend their deal, which will put some fears to rest that Toyota would pull out of the sport in the same manner that Honda did. With secure sponsorship and deals spanning multiple years, it looks like the team are here to stay.