Toyota technical chief Pascal Vasselon believes that this season has been the Japanese manufacturer's best Formula 1 campaign to date in terms of outright pace.
The Cologne-based outfit failed to match its 2005 high of fourth place in the constructors' championship, but in a tighter than anticipated field, the Frenchman was satisfied with the speed of this year's car.
"They are two very different circumstances," he said. "In 2005, two teams were dominating - McLaren and Renault – and pace-wise, our car was 1.5 seconds per lap slower. This season we have been, in most races, a couple of tenths off the pace. We have come to several races with a good chance to win, which has never happened before. We have had the possibility to be in the points at all the races, except Monaco and Monza. We have been podium contenders many times and two or three times win contenders, so it has been our best season pace-wise."
Vasselon said that in spite of this, the team had fallen short of its expectations in 2009, which included winning a grand prix for the first time and finishing third in the constructors championship. However, he believes that an unprecedented chain of events at the Belgian Grand Prix – when front-row qualifier Jarno Trulli hit Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber and broke his front wing – was the main reason for this.
"That race was my biggest frustration, because Spa was for us," he added. "Jarno was the fastest there and we should have won.
"With a win at Spa we'd have virtually achieved both of our objectives in one go. We'd have had our win and, with another two points somewhere, it would also have been enough for us to finish third in the championship, ahead of McLaren and Ferrari."