As a winner of some of endurance racing’s classic events, Anthony Davidson was a popular choice as driver of TOYOTA Racing’s car #8 at Le Mans. In part one of this interview, the British driver tells us his first impressions of the team and the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID …
What are your thoughts on joining TOYOTA Racing?
It’s really exciting to sign with TOYOTA. It feels like a new chapter in my career and I just can’t wait to get started. TOYOTA is such a huge manufacturer and to be involved in their World Endurance Championship project in LMP1 is fantastic.
How much have you been able to learn about the programme since you signed the contract?
I have already been to the factory in Cologne to see the car and meet the team. I had a session on the simulator as well so I got a first taste of the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. I’m still yet to meet up with the other drivers but apart from Hiroaki I know them all already.
What were your impressions of TMG?
The facilities at are great; I’d always heard how comprehensive they are and every word was true. It is a really impressive facility; everything inside is state of the art. To know that such infrastructure is part of our project gives you a lot of confidence as a driver. It was nice to meet all the team at TMG and I had a really good vibe from everyone. It felt like a close-knit family affair which was a nice discovery.
How was your simulator drive?
I had a couple of hours on the simulator and got a feel for the car. It was a good session. I am very familiar with simulators, like most modern drivers, and I think it is important for top teams to have them in their armoury. It was great to get an idea of what to expect from the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. It did feel very familiar I must say, running on the same tyres as I am used to, and that is a good thing. I think my driving style suits LMP1 cars pretty well and it all clicked in the simulator.
What are your first impressions about the car?
It’s clear that a team with modern F1 experience has created this LMP1 car; that was my first thought. Every detail of the car has been looked into and exploited. From the first look it seems very intricate and detailed; and beautiful at the same time. LMP1 cars are quite often beautiful but this TOYOTA looks impressive. I can’t wait to actually drive it and feel the sensations from inside the car.
How do you feel about driving a hybrid at Le Mans?
It is quite interesting. I have never driven a hybrid car before; I only ever did one straight line test with KERS in F1 so it has been interesting to learn and understand more about the details. I love all the detail that goes into a modern race car and this is a whole new area to get my head around. I feel for a driver there is a lot of advantage to understanding a system inside out and that is where the simulator comes into its own. I already have some ideas about what to expect on the circuit and how to operate the system; normally you would have to wait until you got into the car at a test. That shows why it’s so important these days to have a simulator because the cars are so technical now.
Catch up with the second part of Anthony’s interview tomorrow, when he will explain his love for Japan and give his thoughts on his new TOYOTA Racing team-mates.