APRIL 12, 1999
IT is only a few weeks since the Toyota Motor Corporation announced plans to enter Formula 1 racing with its own team, but already the Japanese firm is beginning a recruitment drive to put together a team of engineers to design an F1 engine. A recent spate of advertisements for engine designers in a French magazine is believed to be part of a plan to establish an engine design bureau in Paris. The aim is clearly to attract staff from Renault Sport and Peugeot Sport.
The aim is to have an engine ready for the 2003 season but that may be speeded up so that a Toyota team can begin racing in 2002.
The French link is not a surprise as the man who is in charge of Toyota's F1 project at the moment is Frenchman Andre de Cortanze, who worked at both Renault and Peugeot in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993 he quit Peugeot to set up Sauber's F1 operation and after a spell at Ligier became technical director of Team Toyota Europe in January 1997.
Rumors in Paris suggest that Toyota's main target for recruitment is Peugeot Sport's Jean-Pierre Boudy - who worked with de Cortanze at both Renault and Peugeot. Another target is Boudy's deputy Guy Audoux while Renault Sport's Bruno Mauduit has already left Viry-Chatillon and is expected to be involved with Toyota.
In Italy there are rumors that Ferrari's Luca Marmiroli is also on Toyota's shopping list. He has been working on the design of the Ferrari V10 engine but until 1996 was in charge of the Ferrari V12 programs.
It seems that at the moment Toyota has no fewer than three different engine programs running concurrently. We hear that a V10 is being designed at Team Toyota Europe headquarters in Cologne, Germany. The plan is for the Paris design group to create a V12 and we hear that Toyota has commissioned Yamaha to continue the development of its V10 in Japan, in an effort to see if that engine could be used as the base for a future Toyota F1 engine. This program involves British engine designer John Judd, who designed the 1997 Yamaha V10 engine, with which Damon Hill nearly won the Hungarian GP that year.
Toyota already has aerodynamic work underway with ex-Sauber man Rene Hilorst in charge. It is still early to discuss car designers but it is worth noting that de Cortanze rates Prost Grand Prix's Loic Bigois very highly. The two worked together at Sauber and Bigois followed de Cortanze when he moved to Ligier.
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