Toyota in the background...

TOYOTA continues to be a name whispered in the F1 paddock in relation to a possible assault in F1 in the course of the next three years. Toyota is aiming to make a big impact on the European car markets when the current trade restrictions are dropped in the year 2001 and is gearing up to produce more cars in Europe. During the weekend Minardi played host to a number of Toyota guests, among them former F1 designer Andre de Cortanze, currently technical director of Team Toyota╩Europe, based in Cologne, Germany, not far from the Nurburgring.

We have also heard stories in recent days that Sauber is close to the Japanese car manufacturer, following the collapse of the team's plans to produce its own F1 engines in collaboration with Malaysia's Petronas.

The shelving of the Sauber Petronas engine came as a major blow to engine project leader Osamu Goto and there were many rumors suggesting that the former Honda man was planning to leave the Swiss team. In the last few weeks however Goto has appeared to be a lot happier and more motivated at Sauber, which suggests that he knows more about the future than the F1 paddock in general. While Toyota is thought to be the most likely choice as a partner - and perhaps a shareholder - in Sauber we have also heard whispers suggesting that Honda might be involved. We remain convinced however that Honda is doing its own project in England and will enter F1 in the year 2000. We understand that the F1╩Commission guaranteed Honda an entry in the year 2000.

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