Toyota F1 2009 Challenges

Toyota’s Bright Start in F1 2009 Ends in Withdrawa


In 2009, Toyota F1 showcased promise with early successes, yet faced challenges leading to their exit. Timo Glock’s reflections highlight a season of highs and lows.

Timo Glock vividly recalls: the red and white car was highly competitive from the start of the year. The TF109 secured 3 podiums in the first 4 races (despite being disqualified post-qualifications in Australia).

It’s worth noting that alongside Williams and Brawn, Toyota was the only team equipped with the infamous double diffuser. This advantage would diminish over time, but Glock still remembers the explosive start to the season.

“We had a huge advantage at the beginning of the season; it was simply a great car.”

“At Bahrain, we were even on the front row and led the race. Unfortunately, we made the wrong tire choice, as I was the first to switch to hard tires. Everyone saw I had no pace with those tires and opted for a different strategy, causing me to lose some momentum.”

Subsequently, not only did Toyota lose competitiveness, but Glock also experienced a severe crash in Japan during the second half of the season’s qualifications.

Glock, with a broken leg and a fractured vertebra, had to be replaced by test driver Kamui Kobayashi.

Even though he was fit for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Toyota decided to keep Kamui Kobayashi in the car for the last two Grands Prix. Glock never got another chance to race in the Toyota…

“I believe I could have competed in the last two races, but Toyota chose to keep Kobayashi in the car.”

“Toyota was on the verge of exiting F1 and perhaps thought that with a Japanese driver, they could persuade the board to stay, which ultimately didn’t happen. It’s a pity, as I believe the 2010 car would have been very good.”

Indeed, Toyota withdrew from F1 at the start of 2010 due to the financial crisis… despite rumors of a highly successful 2010 season.

“I only heard some figures, I heard from Toyota guys who went to Ferrari, and they all said the 2010 car was ahead of the Ferrari in terms of aerodynamic performance… but these things happen sometimes. I mean, I would have loved to drive that car…”

“To be honest, generally speaking, Toyota’s structure was somewhat the problem. Decision-making took too long. We had smart ideas, but it would take, I don’t know, three months… You had to go to Japan. Everything moved too slowly. It was a bit like a large ship; you try to steer it, but it takes a while to turn.”

Virgin Racing, a project doomed from the start?

Timo Glock then moved to Virgin Racing… a team obviously less financially endowed. The German admits, Virgin was a fallback option, even one of resignation…

“It wasn’t easy to make that decision.”

“I was on good terms with Renault at the time, then Renault also decided to pull out of F1. There was no other option for me in F1 than to sign with Virgin, because everything was already so late in the season.”

“It was hard moving from a big team to one of the smallest. You might say it was like a small garage where a Formula 1 car was being built. You knew after 15 or 20 laps, you’d see a blue flag and the race is effectively over, let’s say, so it was a completely different kind of racing for me.”

“Still, I enjoyed it, because in the end, it was still F1. We had a great team at the time; of course, they didn’t have much F1 experience, but I really enjoyed working with them. When Pat Symonds joined the team as a consultant, it was fantastic. He had a clear vision and a precise direction to take. You could feel the progress, but we never had the necessary funds to make a significant leap forward.”

Glock faced another setback as by the end of 2012, the team left F1 to be replaced by Marussia.

“By the end of 2012, they told me on December 23rd that it wasn’t going to happen [for another season], so there was no chance elsewhere in F1.”

“In the end, I decided to go to DTM. I was still trying to find something in F1, but it wasn’t the right time.”

Now also retired from DTM, Glock doesn’t quite close the door on his racing career – and considers, perhaps, racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“But I remain open to racing. Le Mans is definitely something I’m considering. I’ve left DTM, ended my relationship with BMW, but I took part in the Porsche Supercup. Le Mans, it’s on my list. That’s for sure.”

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