OCTOBER 12, 1998

A decision soon from Toyota

THE Toyota Motor Corporation is to decide shortly on whether or not to enter Formula 1.

THE Toyota Motor Corporation is to decide shortly on whether or not to enter Formula 1. Sources in France suggest that an important strategic meeting will be taking place in January at Team Toyota Europe to decide whether to enter Grand Prix racing. We understand that the marketing departments at Toyota are keen on the idea as a way of bolstering Toyota's drive into the European car markets. If the decision is taken to go ahead it will then be down to whether or not Toyota comes into the sport owning a team or as an engine supplier. With the number of teams now limited to 12 by the new Concorde Agreement the only way for Toyota to have its own team would be to buy an existing operation: several are understood to be for sale if the price is right.

If Toyota decides to enter the sport as an engine supplier the most likely partnership is with Sauber, which has both a chassis and engine facilities in Switzerland. Having said that it should also be noted that Toyota engineers were spotted earlier this year visiting John Judd's factory in Rugby and since then the company has managed to find the finance necessary to produce a V10 engine which, it is said, is producing prodigious horsepower on the dynos.

If a decision is taken to enter F1 we would expect to see some activity at the start of 2001 and we would expect the project to be led by TTE's technical director Andre de Cortanze, who has considerable F1 experience with Alpine, Sauber and Ligier in addition to a long and successful period at Peugeot Sport. In the interim, however, Toyota remains intent on winning the LeÊMans 24 Hours on June 13 next year.