JANUARY 24, 2000

Toyota gives more F1 details

TOYOTA MOTORSPORT last week laid the foundation stones for its new Formula 1 facilities in Cologne.

TOYOTA MOTORSPORT last week laid the foundation stones for its new Formula 1 facilities in Cologne. The new factory will include a half-scale rolling-road windtunnel. Toyota is committed to entering F1 in 2001 or 2002 with its own chassis and engines. The ceremony was attended by leading local politicians including the Minister President of the North-Rhine Westphalia region Wolfgang Clement and the Mayor of Cologne Harry Blum.

The presence of Clement is interesting as a year ago his administration offered financial guarantees when Peter Zakowski - the boss of Zakspeed - tried to buy the Arrows Formula 1 team. At the time it was reported that Clement hoped to create jobs in the region by helping to fund new industries. The region has suffered heavy job losses in recent years because of cutbacks in the steel and mining industries. This may help to explain Toyota's curious decision to base the F1 program outside England. We understand that last year the company looked very seriously at acquiring the Honda Racing Developments team and staff in Bracknell after Honda bosses decided to close it down. In the end HRD broke up and the staff dispersed to other teams. Although staying in Cologne may be a good idea from a financial point of view, Toyota is going to struggle to get the best engineers out of Britain and may one day regret the decision not to buy a cohesive and experienced F1 operation.

Toyota's motorsport activities have, however, been based in Cologne since 1979 when Ove Andersson's Team ToyotaÊEurope moved there from Brussels. The company has been built up to its current staff of 400 and the original factory has twice been extended. TTE was bought from Andersson by the Toyota Motor Corporation in 1993 and became Toyota Motorsport GmbH, although the TTE name continued to be used in rallying. This was fortunate as the team was later banned from taking part in the 1996 World Rally Championship when it was found to have been running illegal turbo restrictors. Despite this scandal the team has won 43 World Rally Championship victories, four Drivers' titles (for Carlos Sainz in 1990 and 1992, Juha Kankkunen in 1993 and Didier Auriol in 1994) and three Manufacturers' championships (1993, 1994 and 1998). The recent LeÊMansÊ24ÊHours program did not result in success but a TTE car did finish second in the French classic last year.

Toyota has confirmed that its Formula 1 project leader will be Frenchman Andr? de Cortanze but has yet to name a teamÊdirector. Rumors in F1 circles suggest that former Grand Prix driver Martin Brundle is the man most likely to get that job.