Honda F1 website

MARCH 23, 2004

Changes coming at Toyota?

Mike Gascoyne said before the start of the season that he was planning to create two overlapping design teams at Toyota Motorsport in order to speed up development and thus improve performance in 2005 and 2006. The plan is one that Gascoyne used at Renault and was successful. It is not yet clear who will be doing what but the plan will obviously need new designers to be taken on and as work on the 2005 car needs to start immediately it will probably be that Gustav Brunner will work on the TF105 while a second designer will be hired to lead the design team of the 2006 car. However there is little logic in keeping exactly the same design team in 2005 because there is no reason why they would do a better job than they have on the TF104.

There are limitations on what Gascoyne can do, not only because it is believed he is not allowed to approach Renault F1 engineers but also because German employment laws make changes at Cologne rather more difficult than in British teams where time-limited contracts are much more common and where the employee is not as protected as is the case in Germany.

However Renault cannot stop its engineers leaving when their contracts expire and it is interesting to note that a lot of those contracts will be coming to an end in the next 18 months. Tim Densham, one of the two chief designers, joined Renault in August 1999 and so his deal is close to an end. Mark Smith, the other chief designer, joined the team in May 2001 and so will probably have to wait until 2006. However, if the engineers want to leave earlier that is an option for them although it is likely that such a situation would result in legal actions.

It is also worth noting that Renault's head of aerodynamics Dino Toso, who worked with Gascoyne at Jordan and then followed him to Renault, joined the team in December 2000 so is probably contracted until the end of next year.