Toyota has said that it is still investigating the mechanical problems that occurred for its #8 GR010 Hybrid during Sunday’s Six Hours of Monza, stating that it was a fuel pressure problem but that the exact cause has yet to be found.
The Japanese manufacturer experienced a challenging race in the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Monza, where both cars suffered from mechanical problems.
The #8 car, driven by Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, had the most severe problems, losing over forty laps after spending a lot of time with what the team described as a problem relating to the car’s fuel pressure.
Speaking after the race, Toyota’s technical director Pascal Vasselon has said that the team was able to identify that the issue was fuel pressure related, but that the root cause remains unclear.
“We managed to win, it has been a very entertaining race,” said Vasselon. “Although it has been clearly difficult for car 8, which has had, essentially, I would say, a fuel system issue, which is not yet clear. We don’t know exactly why we were lacking fuel pressure.”
A separate problem for the car occurred when Hartley narrowly avoided crashing into a GTE Am runner under braking into turn one with what looked like a brake issue at the time.
Vasselon, however, explained that that was caused by a loose wheel nut, but it did force Toyota to change the entire front left corner on the car, losing even more time.
“Because of this problem, we have had another issue. I would say, in the processing, what was done to review what was going on with the fuel system, one of the wheels has not been properly tightened. And then when he went out, at the first braking [zone], but this was a kind of side effect.”
“The root cause of car 8’s issues are related to the fuel system.”
The #7 sister car had its own issue to deal with, which race winner Kamui Kobayashi earlier described as the car ‘just shutting down somehow’. Vasselon explained that it was determined to be a problem with the control unit.
“Car 8 was out of out of the game, and car 7 did very, very well. There was just one control unit glitch, which a power cycle, and after that it was okay.”
When the problem first hit for the #8 car, with Hartley behind the wheel, the car spent some four minutes in the pits but the issue kept manifesting itself afterwards, as Vasselon explained that the team was unable to find the exact cause behind the problem.
“We knew it was not understood, so we just added fuel. And then in fact, we were not able to go through low fuel. So we knew it was not solved, it was just kind of working.”
After a later stop, the problem was tackled by replacing the fuel system.
“We have changed all the fuel system. We don’t exactly what was causing this, not an electrical issue. We have just changed everything and then it has been working.”
Toyoda: listen to the drivers to make the car stronger
The mechanical issues were something of a headache for Toyota, as the 24 Hours of Le Mans is only a month away. Toyota will only have one more shakedown test before the French endurance classic, taking place at Spa-Francorchamps.
Akio Toyoda, president of the Toyota Motor Corporation and team founder of Toyota Gazoo Racing, responded to the team’s troubles by stating that the team needs to listen to its drivers to try and understand the issues that plagued the team at Monza.
“The GR010 Hybrid is a car that has just started the process of development through racing,” said Toyoda. “The troubles were obvious in the race.”
“There are good and bad types of trouble; the good ones help us to learn but any bad ones should be solved by Le Mans next month.”
“No matter how much preparation is done, the unexpected can always happen in a race. Kazuki stopped just minutes before the end in 2016. Kamui had a problem at the exit of the pit lane a year later. We have experienced unexpected events often.”
“To all team members, please listen the voice of the drivers, who are the ones ‘talking’ with the car and the road.”
“That is only way to make the car stronger. Please make an ever-better car for the drivers to fight with an easier and better feeling.”
“Kazuki, Séb, Brendon, Kamui, Mike, José, your voices will strengthen the car. Whenever you hear even the smallest voice from the car, tell the mechanics or engineers. Let’s make this car much stronger, as one team.”