March 16, 2009 / 1:21 PM / 8 years ago

Glock promises Toyota surge in 2009

4 Min Read

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota driver Timo Glock on Monday pledged to deliver the Japanese team's first Formula One victory in 2009.

The German said the team's commitment to the sport despite the global economic crisis would reap rewards in the new season, which begins in Australia on March 29.

"What I can see in the team now is that everybody is really motivated," Glock told Reuters in an interview. "Everybody has to fight, everybody has to save costs.

"But that's motivated everyone to fight harder. Our performances in winter testing have been much better than in the past.

"The only way to fight back is to come back even stronger. The target now is to show Toyota's real potential and win races."

Glock added: "To be on the podium in Australia would be great. It's quite tight at the moment between all the top teams but we've had solid performances in testing."

The German, who incurred the wrath of Ferrari fans after failing to hold off McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in last year's title decider in Brazil, rejected talk of mounting pressure at Toyota.

The world's largest carmaker slashed its Formula One budget after Japanese rivals Honda quit the sport in December to reduce costs caused by slumping worldwide car sales.

"There's no pressure in that direction," said Glock, who finished second in Hungary last year in his first full season to equal the team's best result since their debut in 2002.

"I think that makes Toyota even stronger in Formula One. People have been working so hard in the factory in Cologne. The team has come closer together in these difficult times."

Glock was 10th in the 2008 drivers' championship with 25 points -- six behind Italian team mate Jarno Trulli, who finished ninth. Toyota were fifth in the constructors' standings.

Winning Mindset

Glock, who turns 27 this week, said his breakthrough drive in Budapest had given him a winning mindset, convincing him he could go one better this season.

"It was mega," he smiled, sitting next to a mock-up of Toyota's new TF109 car. "The goal this year is to get a win and my performances will be better this year.

"Budapest was definitely a release for me. When I was on the podium, it was the best way to show my potential and the pressure went away a bit."

Glock's 2008 season is best remembered for his part in Hamilton's jaw-dropping race in Brazil last November when the Briton passed him at the death to win the world title.

Had he not done so, Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa -- the race winner -- would have won the title as his country's first champion since the late Ayrton Senna.

Glock had stayed out on dry-weather tires on the wet track while others pitted and was losing grip by the time Hamilton blew past him to snatch fifth place and become Formula One's youngest champion at 23.

"It was a crazy race," said Glock. "At the end when it was raining it was like a poker game. It was like having two kings in your hand and somebody has two aces and just beats you at the last moment.

"We gambled and stayed out on slick tires but the last lap was a bit too wet for us. I didn't know I was the guy who nearly decided the championship.

"I realized it the first time when I came back to the pits and all the camera teams came to me and not Lewis. It was a bit strange and not an easy situation for me."

Editing by Sonia Oxley

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