Toyota abandons Silverstone

TOYOTA abandoned its three day test at Silverstone a day early citing power steering failure for its lack of track time. The German-based outfit took its test team to the British venue to continue the build-up to its debut on the Formula 1 trail in 2002, and lingered a full five seconds off the qualifying place of the last man on the grid at last month's Grand Prix, European Minardi's Fernando Alonso.

Scottish driver Allan McNish set the pace for the Japanese giant, and despite the disappointment of the outing found some cause for good cheer.

"We started our launch control testing and the first results were quite encouraging," said the former McLaren Honda test driver. "However, this obviously has to be refined. Also Mika did some pit stop practice which from the outside looked quite good. It was nice to drive at Silverstone, being my home circuit, and I can't wait to come back."

The team's general manager, Dago Roher, explained that there was little point in persisting with the test if the car was not fully functional: "The drivers cannot push the car to the maximum," he said. "We will postpone this until our test next week in Belgium."

Over the two days at Silverstone McNish - who is awaiting confirmation that he will get to race the car next season - and team leader Mika Salo put in 80 laps between them, with the Scotsman outpacing his Finnish team mate by over 0.2s. Toyota's next test - again scheduled for three days - will take place at Spa-Francorchamps, beginning on August 14.

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