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Toyota's latest plans

TOYOTA held its annual shareholders meeting in Tokyo last week and it was confirmed that the company will not enter FormulaŹ1 until 2002. The company's vice-president for technology and motorsport Shinichi Kato said that Toyota had hoped to enter F1 in 2001 but had changed its mind when the FIA decided to ban V12 engines. This means that the company had forfeited $12m of the $48m it deposited with the FIA to become a signatory to the Concorde Agreement.

We hear that Toyota is in the process of reorganizing its F1 team and we expect there to be an announcement soon that a new team manager has been appointed. There is no word as to who this might be but we believe it will be an Englishman who is currently employed with another F1 team. He is expected to recruit a group of experienced F1 people to run the racing team. It is expected that in addition to test driver Allan McNish, Toyota will hire Mika Salo to do testing work for the new team next season and the Finn will then lead the team when it enters the World Championship in 2002. Salo is under contract to Sauber for 2001 but we understand that there are performance clauses in the contract which have not yet been met and so Salo will be free to leave within a few weeks unless he scores a major result. Mika is currently 11th in the World Championship with three points.

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