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Q&A with Toyota Racing's drivers' World Champions

Toyota Racing's Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi share their thoughts on securing the 2014 WEC drivers' World Championship

 

Toyota Racing managed to secure the 2014 WEC drivers’ World Championship at the Six Hours of Bahrain; the penultimate round of the championship. Below they share their thoughts on that achievement and their championship-winning season, which includes four wins from the seven races so far.

 

Q&A with Anthony Davidson

Anthony Davidson, world champion; how does it feel?
It hasn’t hit home yet. I always consider myself to be a top sportscar driver and now I have the World Championship to show for it. It is incredible; the biggest thing I have won in my career by a long way and the first championship I have won since 1995 in karting. I have never been a World Champion before. It feels fantastic. It has been an amazing year and now we have one more job to do in Brazil; we are going to push to win the manufacturers’ World Championship for the team.

The competition in WEC is very strong, does that make this championship even more significant to you?
To be a World Champion in anything is special, let alone against the serious competition we face in Audi and Porsche. Everyone knows their credentials and the history they have in sportscar racing. For us to be standing here having won the World Championship is phenomenal. It is testament to our team, which has built the best and fastest car this year.

Tell us about the race in Bahrain…
We should have won the race. I wanted to win but it wasn’t meant to be. When we had the problem I wasn’t stressed or upset. It was just one of those things. I trusted the team and the mechanics to repair the car and send us back out. It was one problem we haven’t had all year and that put us out of contention but we still showed our speed.

What were your expectations at the start of the season?
Before we even turned a wheel this year I expected we would be more competitive compared to Audi due to the new regulations but not necessarily stronger than them. So it was a pleasant surprise to find out we were in fact the fastest car after the first few races. I did not know what to expect from Porsche but we knew they would get stronger as the season went on.

Did you expect to be fighting for the World Championship at that stage?
No. You hope but you never expect to be fighting for the championship. Our main focus before thinking about the championship was Le Mans, which is the biggest race of the year.

What has been the biggest challenge for you this season?
The biggest challenge has probably been leading a championship, something which I have not done for many years, since my karting days. I have won big races like the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Formula Ford Festival and other single-day events but winning a championship is a different challenge because you have to be consistently at the front.

After Le Mans, what were your thoughts during the long summer break?
Directly when we got the car back on track after the accident, my focus switched. Since that moment my total focus has been on the championship. After this opportunity was taken away I knew what we had to do and we’ve been focused on winning the World Championship since.

It was five months between your Spa victory and the Fuji one-two. How sweet did it feel to be back on the top step?
After a few months away, not just from driving but also from being on the top step of the podium, it was great to have this one-two in front of our home crowd and our colleagues from Toyota. It was the first time I felt dominance from the team. Fuji was a pinnacle where we showed the real speed of the car and the precision of everyone in the team. That was a really good race weekend.

How has the team developed over the season?
We have come a long way since the Prologue. During this test I remember worrying that we didn’t have the car to fight for the championship. But the team found a lot of performance. Even after Silverstone the performance kept coming and that’s been impressive. We really understood the regulations and the car more every time we have been on track. The level of performance we have now is testament to our understanding of the car.

 

Q+A with Sébastien Buemi

Sébastien Buemi, world champion; how does it feel?
This was one of the best days of my career. No-one can take away a World Championship; it is with you forever. So it feels really great and it is difficult to realise what we have achieved at the moment. It is a fantastic achievement because to win a world championship is always very difficult. You need a really strong car for the whole season and I want to thank the team for giving us this. This is really special for us.

The competition in WEC is very strong, does that make this championship even more significant to you?
It is great to win this title when you look at the competition we have had from Audi and Porsche. It is a significant title and it means a lot to win it; for sure it is not easy. Now we want to win the manufacturers’ title in Brazil to complete the season. I think we will again have a good car.

Tell us about the race in Bahrain…
I think we had the car to win because we were one-two before our alternator problem. After this, we were nervous because you never know what can happen. We were only watching the number two Audi, our championship rivals. It always looked fine but you can never be sure. You become worried that there can be retirements and maybe they would get the points they needed to keep the fight open. We did our job and got the car to the flag, even though there was very little we could do in terms of scoring points.

What were your expectations at the start of the season?
I would say we had expectations and objectives. My objective was really to win Le Mans and the World Championship but expectations always depend on where you stand and what is possible. If you are two seconds off the pace it’s difficult to think you will win! Clearly after we saw how competitive the TS040 Hybrid was, the expectations started to match the objectives. We realised we had the car to do it.

Did you expect to be fighting for the World Championship at that stage?
We thought we could be at the front but it was hard at that stage to think we would win the World Championship.

What has been the biggest challenge for you this season?
I think the biggest challenge is always to try to achieve the maximum with the package you have. When you have such a good car you have pressure to achieve the best results. Clearly we were really disappointed with Le Mans because we did not achieve what we should have with the car we had. Now the team has won five races out of the seven we had so far, so that looks quite good. The difficult thing is always to make sure you get the most out of the car, more than anything else.

After Le Mans, what were your thoughts during the long summer break?
To be honest, it was a difficult period. You prepare yourself all the year for Le Mans and when you don’t achieve your target, it is very difficult. After Le Mans and even during the race after the early accident, I thought directly about the World Championship. I thought if we cannot win Le Mans, we need to win the World Championship.

It was five months between your Spa victory and the Fuji one-two. How sweet did it feel to be back on the top step?
First of all, it was very sweet because it was in Fuji. Finishing first and second in front of the home crowd is fantastic and to win as a team for the third year in a row is really special. I wanted to make sure we would win because in Austin we had the quickest car and we were leading the race, then the rain came. We had the quickest car but we didn’t win. Fuji reassured us that we can do the job.

How has the team developed over the season?
This is the first year that we ran the whole championship with two cars, targeting both Le Mans and the World Championship. It makes a big difference; you feel much more prepared. We tuned ourselves a little bit everywhere. I don’t think we changed massively but we improved. <

 

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