MAY 5, 2002
Toyota Motorsport - a year on
A year ago this week Toyota announced that it was parting company with its technical director Andre Cortanze after very poor performances by the team's F1 prototype chassis. The car crashed heavily during its first test after a suspension failure, leaving driver Mika Salo out of action for a couple of months.
At the time Toyota seemed to be in a mess.
A year later one has to salute the achievement of the new F1 team which has twice scored points this season and has a very good reliability record compared to other teams.
Much of the credit must go to Gustav Brunner, who was poached by Toyota from Minardi at just a few days notice. He is the man who led the design team of the current car. The engine has been a great success, setting some of the fastest times through speed traps in the early races of the year, but perhaps the greatest triumph has been the way in which the team has operated so far.
The Toyota Motorsport boss Ove Andersson knows that it will be hard to keep up the momentum and that the strength of the team can only really be judged in the hard times that will inevitably come along at some point or other.
One area in which it is fair to say that the team has been very successful has been the way in which has been presented. Unlike some other recent F1 teams, Toyota has consistently downplayed its hopes - which was the right thing to do given the exaggerated claims and hopes of teams such as British American Racing and Jaguar Racing.
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