On this day in F1 March 6th, is brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: Samora Machel
– 2005: A ‘Trulli’ Commendable Performance
Panasonic Toyota Racing has Ralf Schumacher racing for them this season. No he hasn’t left Scuderia Ferrari, he’s left BMW Williams. We’re both thinking about Ralf Schumacher, right? Just checking.
The team’s hopes for a remarkably more solid showing are high, what with Ralf taking a dig at his old team because he believes after “…the worst season ever in a Formula 1 car,” “They (Toyota) are ambitious…and can put together a car able to compete for both the Drivers and Constructors Championships”.
On the back of hiring reputed ex-Jordan and Renault designer Mike Gascoyne, the team is under even more pressure to perform better in its fourth season on the grid. It also doesn’t help that Panasonic Toyota Racing reportedly has one of the biggest budgets in Formula 1.
After finishing just outside the points (7th, under the old point scoring system) in the season opener at Albert Park, Jarno Trulli replicates his qualifying performance at the Sepang Circuit by putting his TF105 on the first row, right beside Fernando Alonso’s Renault. His team mate Ralf manages a fifth place on the grid, beside Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren.
Renault would display dominant form as their ‘number one’ driver (yes, they made no qualms about it) scores his first win of the season. He beats Jarno Trulli’s Toyota by an appalling 23 second margin, making him the first Spaniard to lead the F1 World Championship in the history of the sport.
More significantly, this is Toyota’s first ever podium in the sport after their foray into Formula 1. Long overdue perhaps, as this is a team that shut down both its rallying and track racing (Le Mans) exploits to focus on Formula 1. Later on in the season, Trulli would claim Toyota’s maiden pole position at the US GP in Indianapolis.
The headlines however, have to be shared with Ferrari on this occasion. The reigning World Champions have one of their cars retire (Barrichello) with a handling problem, and the other finish a dismal seventh (Schumacher. We’re talking about Michael this time). This is the first time in 22 consecutive races that the Scuderia fails to make the podium.
Until its exit from the sport after seven seasons, 2005 proved to be Panasonic Toyota Racing’s most successful campaign. Credit could be given to Mike Gascoyne for this too. So much so that Panasonic even agreed to renew its title sponsorship contract with the marque from the end of this season, seeing their partnership only end with Toyota’s exit.
Second place would prove to be Toyota’s best finishing position. Toyota draws its curtains on the sport in 2009 equaling second four more times, never conquering that elusive top step of the podium.
Love it – Mike Gascoyne has always seemed ‘under pressure’. He did once tell me he was the first 1m euro a year salaried team principle when at Toyota. That was the zenith of his career I guess. Although I didn’t hear this from Mike, I believe it was pretty much his persuasive powers alone that brought Caterham into existence via Malaysian money and contacts. Not easy to do, at the time he did it either. Shame he’s not in F1 any more – still 20 years+ at it – pretty impressive.