MAY 3, 2001
De Cortanze leaves Toyota
A terse press release from Cologne has revealed that Toyota Motorsport's technical director Andre de Cortanze has left the program and Formula 1 insiders are already suggesting that the Japanese car company has begun to realize that it is facing some serious problems in the future.
The departure of de Cortanze was obviously not expected as the team has been unable to name a replacement and has cobbled together a "technical project management team" which will be chaired by Toyota Motorsport boss Ove Andersson.
"These latest changes to our management give us a more solid foundation on which we can carry on building a successful new F1 race team" Ove Andersson was quoted as saying but in F1 at least no-one is convinced. The announcement is a major setback for the team. At the moment there is no word as to what happened but clearly the departure is less than friendly and there has been speculation that either de Cortanze fell out with Andersson and resigned or was fired.
De Cortanze has been at Toyota for the last four years overseeing the company's sportscar racing program and laying the foundations for the Formula 1 project. The team has been heavily criticized for having decided to locate the team headquarters in Germany. This makes it very difficult indeed for Toyota to recruit good staff with Formula 1 experience. The decision to base the team in Germany was taken because Andersson wanted to build on his existing organization, an indication that he did not perhaps fully understand just how difficult it is to be successful in F1. The first tests of the prototype car in recent weeks will no doubt have given the team an idea of just where they stand in relation to the opposition and if all was going well there would be no need for de Cortanze to depart.
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