AUGUST 3, 2004
Panis says new Toyota is on the pace
Mike Gascoyne's arrival at Toyota earlier this year was the beginning of a revamp at the Cologne team which will bear full fruit when the F105 appears next year but in the interim the feisty Gascoyne set to work to do what he could to improve the performance of the F104. The result was the F104B which appeared for the first time at Hockenheim. A reworked version of the TF104 the new car is lower and lighter than the previous machine and more efficient aerodynamically. The problem at Hockenheim was that the aero package was so new that it had not been tested before the team arrived in Germany and so on Friday the drivers found the car rather difficult as they tried to find the correct settings. Olivier Panis managed to find a balance he liked and on Saturday qualified ninth. His hopes in the race were ruined when the car stalled as the grid lined up for the start and in the end he started from the pitlane. He spent the afternoon catching up but ended the day setting the fourth fastest lap of the race, the only real hint that Toyota is making progress. Panis says that he reckons that the new aerodynamics have found around half a second a lap and from the fact that the new car is much stiffer than the original.
"We are on the pace now," says the Frenchman.
The problem is that with the summer testing ban it is difficult to develop the car on the race track, although the Toyota team has plenty of rigs at its factory in Cologne to make sure that the car is reliable.
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