PANASONIC TOYOTA RACING TF103 – THE CAR THAT LED THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX
The Panasonic Toyota Racing TF103 was Toyota’s contender for its second season of Formula 1 competition, in 2003. The car was an evolution of the previous year’s TF102, rather than a radical new design. The design group, led by Gustav Brunner and co-ordinated by Keizo Takahashi, aimed for a car that was lighter, generated more downforce and was more aerodynamically efficient than its predecessor.
Their work was aided by information gathered from an intermediate car, the TF102B, which ran from September 2002 with the 2003-specfication engine and seven-speed gearbox.
The TF103 benefited from the new RVX-03 V10 engine, a unit lighter and more powerful than 2002’s RVX-02. It was designed and produced in-house by a team overseen by Luca Marmorini.
At the same time at Panasonic Toyota Racing introduced the new car, it also brought two new drivers on board: Frenchman Olivier Panis, a driver of great experience and a past winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, and Cristiano da Matta, who drove a Toyota-powered car to overall victory in the 2002 CART FedEx series in the USA.
Their input and the development of the TF103 saw Toyota improving its performance in the ultra-competitive environment of Formula 1. The team ended the season still seeking their first podium finish, but in the course of the year they posted some notable achievements, including da Matta leading the British Grand Prix for 17 laps.
He said: “Silverstone was one of the circuits that really suited the TF103 and certainly one of the year’s highlights. We tested there a few weeks before the race and we went there knowing that the car was going to be competitive. I led the race benefiting from some extraordinary incidents on the track, which brought the safety car out. Of course, I have led races before, but it was a special feeling to be leading an F1 race for the first time in my rookie year.”
At the end of the season the TF103 was in fine form at the Japanese Grand Prix, the team posting its best combined qualifying performance yet with da Matta and Panis third and fourth on the grid respectively, positions they translated into sixth and 10th place finishes. Taking the season as a whole, the drivers amassed 19 top 10 qualifying performances and 16 championship points.
TOYOTA TF103 TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION
Toyota V10, 90° angle
Push rod with torsion bar front and rear
BBS magnesium; front 13×12, rear 13×13.5
600kg (including driver)