Executive Interview

Jan. 1, 2020
Formula 1 (F1) racing is moving closer to homologation, wherein all racecars will be more uniform and standardized to narrow the competitive technology gap between cars that teams with more resources exploited. John Howett, president of Panasonic Toy

John Howett • President, Toyota Motorsports

Formula 1 (F1) racing is moving closer to homologation, wherein all racecars will be more uniform and standardized to narrow the competitive technology gap between cars that teams with more resources exploited. John Howett, president of Panasonic Toyota Racing (PTR), shared his thoughts with Motor Age as to how the teams deal with the challenges faced in 2008.

Motor Age: How does PTR hone the competitiveness of its new TF108 racecar?

Howett: The development has been remorseless, which it has to be because of the competitive pressure of Formula 1. The key issue has been to identify which major elements contribute most to performance enhancement and put more resources into those areas. It is therefore the relative rate of performance gain that is absolutely critical. We have to work harder and smarter than our competitors.

Motor Age: What are the key areas that PTR will derive better performance from?

Howett: The big focus for us has been aerodynamics, but at the same time performance has been squeezed out of every part of the package, including the engine and the powertrain, particularly in relation to the F1's change to a common Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and the four-race gearbox. Another area we believe we can improve dramatically in is our race start performance.

Motor Age: Toyota is one of only two F1 teams to both design and manufacture the entire car under one roof. How do you manage that challenge?

Howett: We have a committed and highly skilled international staff that brings an exotic wealth of experience and views together. In this team, you have different people from all around the world. This is because we try to get the best people. It's important what they are good at, not where they are from.

Motor Age: How important is the Toyota Way to the team?

Howett: I still believe people don't truly understand Toyota's great challenging spirit. In Formula 1, it is not just a question of winning and buying success; it is about doing it Toyota's way, by developing a team from the ground up using a more open structure of evaluation, of seeking to exploit every opportunity and learning from the total opportunity.

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