Toyota team president John Howett says the Japanese squad was too conservative in its strategy for the Bahrain Grand Prix, something that he reckons cost the outfit a chance of fighting for its maiden F1 win.
Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock started from first and second after a dominant qualifying performance, but Trulli dropped down to third in the race while Glock had tire issues and finished in a very distant seventh position.
Howett admitted the team decided to use the prime tires for its drivers' longer stints, a decision that proved costly as both Trulli and Glock lost valuable time with the harder compound. Howett said, however, that it was positive the team was disappointed with not having won following its strong start to the season.
"We should have gone with the soft tire for the longer stint. We had the option to go three stop or two stop. On three we would have been stuck in traffic, so we decided to go for two," Howett told AUTOSPORT. "And we were worried that the soft tire would probably not hold out with the heavier fuel load and the conditions. I think strategically it was wrong. We were slower on the harder tyre, and I think that is where we lost most of the advantage.
"I think it is positive that we are disappointed. If you look three years ago, we would have been ecstatic about finishing third, whereas now we are disappointed because we could smell the victory.
"That is a positive sign, and really Jarno was hounding Sebastian at the end of the race, so we are there with the pace of the Red Bull. And honestly, I think in race trim the Brawn is fractionally quicker but definitely within striking distance."
He added: "It is a solid start to the season, but we are hungry to win. We can smell it, so I think it is an incentive. The motivation is there to keep pushing."
Howett said one of the reasons why Toyota is yet to score its first win is because it is so eager to savour victory after years of disappointment.
"In Formula 1, you have to get everything to the top level and probably if we win a race then we will relax and it will make it much easier. I think we are trying too hard," he said. "It is always the same, because it can be that we are so hungry to win that we are nervous to make an error and that makes you make conservative decisions that don't make you win.
"But we have to be proud of the team and what we have done – the engineers have built a very quick car, and the reliability has been solid."