Honda website
Honda website

APRIL 5, 2006

What now for Toyota?

The word from Cologne is that the departure of Mike Gascoyne, which is still to be officially confirmed, will see Pascal Vasselon move up from his current role as General Manager (Car Design and Development) to take on Gascoyne's role as technical director (chassis). This is interesting given that Vasselon is fundamentally a tyre engineer, having joined Toyota from Michelin.

The design team at the moment in Cologne consists of three groups: two deal with pure design and are headed by John Litjens and Mark Tatham and the third deals with longer-term design ideas and is headed by David Nielsen. The aerodynamics department is now under the control of Jason Somerville.

This is not expected to change a great deal.

What will be more interesting is what happens now to Gascoyne. It will be at least six months before he is working again and it is fairly clear that Mike has had enough of working abroad and will be looking for a job in Britain. That narrows down his options as most of the obvious jobs are taken and it is unlikely that he will want to get involved in some that might like to hire him. There may be possibilities with a new team once we know the 12 teams chosen for 2008 and it is also possible that a team such as Super Aguri Racing would want to hire Gascoyne, not only for his knowledge and experience, but also because it would be a kick in the teeth for Toyota from rival Honda.

In the interim, however, there are bound to be legal implications of the split which will be keeping the Toyota lawyers busy. In the case of Gascoyne this may be rather easier than in the case of Gustav Brunner as the Austrian is believed to have had a non-finite contract. Gascoyne's contract had a year or so to run.