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Toyota are handed a stark ultimatum

Alan Henry
Monday January 10, 2005
The Guardian

The Toyota formula one team must raise its game dramatically if it is to continue justifying its parent company's billion-dollar investment. That was the stark message from the Japanese company's senior management before the unveiling of the new Toyota TF105 at Barcelona's Estacio de Franca railway station.

Toyota's satisfaction at being the first team to unveil its new challenger for the 2005 season was also tempered by a warning from Jarno Trulli, who will partner Ralf Schumacher in their all-new driver line-up, and said that Michael Schumacher looks likely to continue his domination.

Trulli, who scored his first grand prix win at Monaco last year driving for Renault, conceded that the Bridgestone-shod Ferraris may continue to out-perform the opposition despite technical changes designed to liven up the racing.

"We are going to have to measure ourselves against the other Michelin teams," he said. "Ferrari may still be out of reach. In this context, 70% of the teams will be on Michelin next year and Ferrari may yet prove to be unbeatable."

Before the car launch the Toyota vice-president Akihiko Saito laid down his demands that Toyota must this year score its first top-three finish in a grand prix.

"Formula one has been harder than we expected," he told the Japanese media. "But that just means that it's a challenge worthy of our attentions. However, we can't afford to keep going without getting better results. We have simply invested too much money."

The new Toyota TF105 is lower, lighter and more compact than its predecessor and the team's British technical director Mike Gascoyne believes that it will match up to the initial promise shown by the latest RVX-05 V10 engine.

"Last year was spent optimising our resources and essentially preparing the whole team to make a big step forward in 2005," said Gascoyne. "The pressure on Toyota to succeed in formula one is unprecedented, but few people realise the enormity of the challenge."
 
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