Toyota pulled into line

TOYOTA's indication that it will test during the winter ban may result in the rest of the Formula 1 team owners forcing the Japanese team to sit on the sidelines for a further 12 months should it pursue such a course.

Ove Andersson, principal of the Cologne-based Toyota squad is adamant that, as it does not sign up as a Formula 1 competitor until January 1 2002, it has no need to go along with such regulations. Formula 1 has reacted strongly against Toyota's presence, however, especially after claiming that attempts to 'poach' staff with big money offers were forcing wages bills upwards. The successful signing of European Minardi technical guru Gustav Brunner has only underlined the frosty relationship.

Andersson, who claims that Toyota is 'not welcome' in Formula 1, spoke on the matter at the German Grand Prix, saying: "Well it's very clear that the FIA regulations apply to us the year we enter the world championship and this is from January 1st next year.

"I have consulted the FIA concerning this matter in November last year and I got it confirmed that according to the sporting regulations in paragraph 65 we can test until the end of this year."

The FIA is believed to be under pressure from the teams to backtrack on any consent that might have been given, which Andersson believes would further damage the team's pace in its debut season. "We have to follow the rules for the participating teams so we made our plans based on that situation and if these rules are changed we will be in big trouble," he said.

Should Toyota press on with its winter development program it is increasingly likely that the existing teams in Formula 1 will move to have the team voted out of the 2002 world championship. It would take a unanimous vote from all representatives of the teams - but this is not impossible. Recently Ron Dennis spoke on the subject, saying: "If, as it seems, the rules allow them to do it then let them get on with it. But it certainly shows a distinct lack of fair play, and it has got nothing to do with the fierce but loyal spirit of competition I expect from teams in Formula One."

This subject is anticipated to be high on the agenda at the next Formula 1 team principals' meeting pencilled in for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 14-16.

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