Double Act Debut
Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock Join Forces
For its seventh season at the pinnacle of motorsport, Panasonic Toyota Racing has a perfect blend of youth and experience - and this combination is already bearing fruit. Jarno and Timo have worked hand in hand to extract increasing levels of performance from the TF108, building a strong working relationship in the process.
Timo may be young, 25, but he has solid experience of different categories and arrives at Panasonic Toyota Racing as a proven champion following his superb title-winning GP2 campaign last year. Nevertheless, Timo has discovered that working alongside Jarno, one of the fastest drivers in the world with 11 seasons already behind him, has hastened his learning.
"He's really experienced and that's good for me," Timo says. "It's good experience for me to have somebody like him in the team. He knows the team for a long time, and has a lot of experience of how you set-up a car that makes it pretty interesting for me."
Throughout his career, Timo has shown the fighting qualities necessary to compete at the top; looking back at his route back to Formula 1 after his one season there in 2004 is a study of determination and hard work, not to mention enough natural talent to shine in every category he has competed in.
But having a fast and experienced racer alongside also provides Timo with stiff competition, and President John Howett expects a keen fight between the two men on the track, as well as close cooperation off it.
"I think Timo has to recognise that Jarno is one of the quickest qualifiers out there," John says. "And in Formula 1 you tend to race where you qualify and finish the first lap, so not only does he have to show how competent a racing driver he was last year in GP2 he needs also to qualify at the highest level."
For Panasonic Toyota Racing, the positive energy created by the new driver line-up has been clear throughout winter testing. Timo's enthusiasm for testing and improving the car combines perfectly with Jarno's experience and dedication, with the result that significant improvements have been made to TF108 set-up since the car was rolled out for the first time on 13 January.
Both drivers have made important contributions since then, and this has seen the TF108 show ever increasing performance, including a fastest time of the day and impressive long-run pace in the final pre-season test last month.
This comes as no surprise to Team Manager Richard Cregan, who believes a blend of youth and experience is the best for the development of team and drivers.
"I think when you bring a young driver in and you pair him up to an experienced Formula 1 driver like Jarno it works both ways," he says. "I think you have a very good transfer of knowledge from the more experienced driver to the younger driver - in terms of real driving experience, in terms of how to handle a car, how to handle team, feedback, all those things.
"But then at the same time you have a very good shift of enthusiasm if you like from the young driver to the established driver because you know it's new and it's exciting. I think it works both ways and that's what happening at the moment to our benefit."
Timo, of course, is not entirely new to Formula 1, having being test driver for Jordan in 2004, including racing in four Grands Prix. This experience, as well as his two successful seasons in GP2, means he has a strong knowledge of most current Formula 1 circuits and he arrives in Melbourne well prepared for his Toyota race debut.
Jarno's experience is clear following 11 seasons in the most demanding and competitive sport on earth, but the Italian has lost none of his commitment and he is ready for a new experience - teaming up with Timo to lead Panasonic Toyota Racing's 2008 challenge.
"The atmosphere is great inside the team," he says. "Timo is a young driver coming up who is very motivated. I am probably more motivated than ever and I am ready to push the team and improve the car."
And Jarno sums up the feeling in the team when he says: "Definitely I think it's good that Timo has joined. It's good for everyone; good for me and for the team. He is a quick driver and I'm enjoying the time with him."