I could have written this post a week ago, such is the general lack of surprise and excitment surrounding a new Toyota F1 car. Duly shuffle Ralf and co up on stage, pull the blanket off what proves to be once again the ugliest painted car in the feild, then make the requisite noises about how they underperformed last year but Toyota loves a big challenge. I'd say they've got that one right at least, because it is going to be a serious challenge for them to break out of the mediocre patterns they have going right now.
The mismanagment going on in Cologne is mind numbing; first they fire their technical director (genius?) Mike Gasgoyne who they had hired for like $10 million two years earlier, and now at the launch all they can talk about is how great Ralf Schumacher is ($15 million a year great?!?!)
Toyota motorsport boss John Howett had this to say about their boy-vunder, "The situation is that we have a three-plus-two-year contract, so we have an option in our favour for two years. I think both sides really want to wait until probably we've seen some races and he wants to see if we are good enough to provide a machine and I think then we'll sit down and discuss."
Let me clarify that after four years, almost two billion dollars, no wins, and three podiums all the boss can talk about is how much they hope Ralph Schumacher will continue to grace them with his presence if they are good enough?!??!?! Every other team is pushing their drivers like mad whileToyota seems totally laxidasical. Look how much Nick Heidfeld reacted to racing against Kubica in the same car. Suddenly they were both way faster.
Wili Webber, who manages Ralf, is an absolute genius. Not only does his client get the most inflated salary in F1 history, Toyota can't wait to keep paying him more. Knowing this pair, Ralf will probably negotiate a raise into that -plus-two year contract. ED: It's true, Willi no longer is Ralf's Manager. It's some other poor sap who has to shill Ralf's skills on a daily basis.
On the car front they have (*nerd alerdt*) continued to evolve their slightly angular, boxy looking car. Toyota has stuck by verticle sidepods and large shoulder wings en lieu of big barge boards and deeply undercut sidepods. This is similar to Honda but is a stark contrast to designs from Renault, Ferrari, Mclaren and Williams. The nose is higher this year to improve the performance of the front wing and you can see some creative carbon layout in the suspension to acheive their "zero keel" design. Quite how it all holds together is really amazing.
Check out the details on autosport