Panasonic Toyota Racing's TF105 race car has been influenced predominantly by the new technical regulations implemented for the 2005 season. Adapting to these changes has offered the team a new and exciting technical challenge, placing an even greater onus on work carried out in the windtunnel.
"The most significant changes on the chassis lie in the aerodynamics area," explains Technical Director Chassis Mike Gascoyne, "with changes to the front wing, rear wing and diffuser the most noteworthy. To combat these changes we have placed a lot more resources into the windtunnel area over the last year and I hope that the TF105 will represent the fruits of our labours. Initially, we lost around 25% downforce with the new aero regulations, but we are striving to reduce this by the largest possible amount in time for the first race of the season in Australia and then subsequently throughout the year."
The car that has been launched in Barcelona marks only the first stage in a long line of development of the TF105. The team is already actively working on a brand new aerodynamic package in time for the Australian Grand Prix in March, which will substantially alter the car's aesthetic appearance. Toyota aims to squeeze as much as possible out of the design opportunities created by the new regulations by increasing the use of computer aided design to optimise the final specification TF105 for Melbourne. Significant improvements have already been seen in this area.
In its fourth year of participation in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Toyota believes that it can finally extract the maximum performance from its 50%-scale Cologne windtunnel in order to reduce the gap to the front-running teams in 2005, benefiting from greatly enhanced operations in its chassis design and aerodynamics departments.
"Since the end of 2003," adds Gascoyne, "we have restructured the chassis area considerably in order to place more emphasis on our work in the windtunnel, not simply to increase the number of parts being tested, but more importantly to enhance the accuracy of the results. In the chassis design office, almost immediately after the TF104 was launched, we opted to appoint two project groups, one focusing on the development of the TF104, latterly the TF104B, and the other concentrating on the TF105, headed up by Chief Designer Gustav Brunner."
The team took a strategic decision mid-way through the 2004 season to freeze development on its revised TF104B chassis - which made its race debut at the German Grand Prix in July - and instead turn its undivided attention to the TF105, a risk that Gascoyne believes will reap substantial rewards this season: "Unfortunately, we were forced to stop development of the TF104B and abandon our original plan to continue the progress right to the season finale in Brazil. Although this was detrimental to us at the time, I now feel that we are in a much stronger position compared to our rivals given the number of regulation changes that we have had to take into consideration for 2005."
Gustav Brunner notes: "For the first time in Panasonic Toyota Racing's short history, we have focused solely on the efficiency of our internal operations and testing. The TF105, unlike its predecessors, has a lot of carry-over parts. We have carefully applied methods and categorisation to greatly augment our testing procedures and we are subsequently getting more valuable data to make our package as competitive as possible for this season."
"Mechanically, the car is an evolution and we have worked hard to reduce the weight of the car from the TF104 to the TF104B," Brunner concludes. "This has now naturally progressed to the TF105, but the devil is in the detail, so we have made many meticulous changes to the mechanical side of the car."
The chassis and suspension concept was at the forefront of Toyota's mind from midway through 2004 as the team began to implement the new one-race tyre rule and take into consideration all potential strategies that could come into play. A great deal of work has also gone into electronic systems to optimise the tyre life.
Gascoyne adds: 'Aside from the aerodynamics, we have improved in all other areas of the car by paying close attention to the detailed design. Work has continued to improve the overall stiffness of the chassis, engine and transmission package, incorporating the improved safety requirements of the FIA, whilst further reducing the combined weight of the car and its centre of gravity. Gustav and his team have looked at the entire mechanical package and put in a large effort particularly on the rear end of the car, something we felt was one of our weaknesses last season. We have greatly enhanced stiffness and damping characteristics at the rear of the TF105. As part of this process, we have also concentrated on producing a lighter and stiffer gearbox."
"Additionally," he enthuses, "we have further improved the working practices of the engine and chassis departments over the last twelve months, which has resulted in a significant step ahead in the integration of the engine in the TF105. Together with Technical Director Engine Luca Marmorini, we have worked closely on the engine installation, producing a significantly improved package. Overall performance has not been compromised at any stage and there has been a highly proficient co-operation between chassis and engine, which is only possible with Toyota's all-under-one-roof philosophy."
2005 also sees further challenges imposed within the engine department with the introduction of the two-race engine rule. After successfully increasing the lifespan of the RVX-04 engine from 400km to 800km in 2004, Luca Marmorini and his team of engineers have been forced to double the reliability yet again for 2005. The brand new RVX-05 model has been designed and built to last for two race weekends, which equates to approximately 1500km.
"Toyota's maxim of continuous improvement has again formed the backbone of engine development," comments Marmorini. "Because of the change in engine regulations, the RVX-05 is an evolution of the RVX-04. We wanted to have enough time to modify long lead time parts like crankshafts and blocks, so we started working at an early stage to a two-race engine. Every part has had to go through extensive reliability testing on the transient dynos to ensure the engine can last for two race weekends. Like 2004, we have had to double the mileage of the engine without compromising the performance of the unit. A hybrid version of the RVX-05 with 2004-specification fixation points was fired up on the dyno in July 2004, giving us ample time for fine-tuning and further development before its first run with the 2005 specification fixation points in the TF105. We will start the 2005 season with the same level of horsepower as we ended 2004, but with double the life expectancy. The first track !
tests with the hybrid version were very promising and I believe that the Toyota RVX-05 will be among the very best engines in Formula 1 in 2005."