Twice winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Alex Wurz has joined with Toyota Racing team for the 2012 season. The Austrian driver has taken the very first laps on the new Toyota LMP1 on the Paul Ricard circuit at le Castellet, France. He has begun development work and has simultaneously discovered the hybrid technology. Here are his first impressions…
Alex, you have just finished a long working day…
“Yes, it was a good day of work. We have started a little late because of ice on some sections of the track. Then, we checked the hybrid system and aerodynamics. Everything went well and we completed the whole testing schedule. We have made a run to have a basis and I immediately felt comfortable with the car. We have steadily improved balance. In the afternoon, we focused on the development of the hybrid system. We have examined several options for development on both short and long term. Everything we learn today will be useful for what lies ahead.”
What are your first impressions on the Toyota LMP1 after these first rounds?
“In fact, I have a lot of impressions. Some are minor. Others are sophisticated. Overall, I feel very good about this car. This is a good start, but I am in a very analytical state of mind: the car has made a positive first impression but there is still a lot of work to do. To sum it up, I got out of the car with a big smile on my face!”
What is your opinion of the hybrid technology that was used on this car?
“When you start the hybrid engine in the pit lane, you realize that future is already here! At first, it may seem a little strange, but it is… cool, very cool! The system is very well integrated into the car and into the racing environment. You get used to it quickly, just as with every well-developed car. I was confident enough to push it to the limit: from a driver’s point of view, this is a good sign.”
Which is the main asset of this prototype?
“Its strongest point is its solid start. All areas are positives. If I had to pick one of these areas, it would be aerodynamics.”
Being a part of this new adventure from the very first steps, does that feel special?
“It is definitely special. First and foremost, from a human point of view. Somehow, I was a little nervous. When you start from a reference point, you have some expectations. This time, everything is totally new… But after a few laps, this impression has already gone. Taking the first laps is always special and I like it…”
What made you decide to join Toyota? Did the perspective of taking part in the very beginning of development work on a new car and a new technology influence you in any way?
“Technological capacities were my priority. I know TMG’s expertise, their development capacities and Toyota’s know-how. Moreover, I also already know Pascal Vasselon, so that helped me make my decision. Everything matched in this project and that is convinced me.”
You are known to have good developing skills for a racing car. So do you like doing that?
“Yes I enjoy a lot taking part in the development work. I am very analytical. Even if the car has been developed some time ago, there still are some little windows for creativity. Seeing the results and taking the steps one by one is rewarding.”
What about the atmosphere inside the team for this roll-out?
“It kind of reminds me of the working atmosphere in F1. Everything is very precise, determined to the very detail of things. There are a lot of briefings and work meetings. Each impression counts. I experienced this during the last seasons, but here it is even more extreme. I like this analytical side. The team is highly international, with Japanese, Germans, French guys, Italians… but everything works very well. With my team -mates, we get to know each other. We are only at the beginning.”