Tag Archives: Toyota

Toyota Motorsport split with Hispania

HRT have lost another technical partnership

HRT have lost another technical partnership

Toyota Motorsport, who have, for this year, been offering technical support to the struggling Hispania team, have today said that they will cease operations with the team. Toyota claim that this contract cancellation is because of a lack of “contractual payment obligations”.

HRT have already split up with another technical partnership, the last one was with Dallara, their chassis provider, back in May. However, this time it is more serious, as Toyota have been supplying the team with a wind tunnel, driving simulator, and an engineering services supplier. Without this, the team is in much worse state for the 2011 season.

Toyota’s statement reads as follows:

 Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) confirms that all cooperation 
with Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) has been terminated and 
will not resume.

TMG retains all intellectual property rights to its current 
F1 car and is completely free to pursue other projects and 
support new customers for its high-performance engineering 
services.

TMG regrets that HRT has not met its contractual payment 
obligations and will pursue all available options to reach
a satisfactory conclusion to this matter.

If you ask me, the HRT team are becoming more and more of a joke. Their “technical facilities” don’t exist any more, they have been strangled with a lack of investment from their owner, and are simply miles off the pace compared to their rivals. Some have compared the team to Minardi, but I remember people actually liking Minardi.

A complete takeover is needed of the team before it embarresses Formula 1 even more.

Toyota not intending return to “elitist” F1

The former boss of Toyota’s F1 programme, Tadashi Yamashina, has said that the Japanese company is not intending a return to Formula 1, as the sport is too distant from ordinary drivers.

Talking to Automotive News, Yamashina said that regardless of the global financial troubles that speeded up Toyota’s departure, the team would have pulled out soon anyway:

"It might not have been so abrupt, but it would have happened.

President [Akio] Toyoda’s stance on motorsports is geared more 
toward the customer. There is a big gap between Formula One and 
Toyota’s actual car users."

Also, he claimed that the gap is too large betwee the average fan and the sport:

"Average fans have no hope of strolling the paddock at a Formula 
1 race.

For the fortunate few who can afford to do that, it's fine. I think 
the best kind of races are those in which people can get in close 
to the race."

What he says is true. Formula 1 isn’t linked enough with the fan, and neither is it geared towards average road users. But it isn’t supposed to be. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and should have the best drivers, the fastest cars, and the best teams. Toyota competed here from 2002 to 2009, spending hundreds of millions, and never won a single race. If you can’t win after spending more than all of the small teams combined, you have only yourself to blame.

Toyota is still competing in NASCAR, a sport which is excellent when it comes to linking the fans with the race. Spectators can walk right up to the teams’ areas, even in the pit lane I’m told. While Formula 1 is nothing like that, this isn’t a worthwhile excuse to stay out of F1.

Stefan GP ends Toyota partnership

Stefan GP has now ended their technical partnership with Toyota

Stefan GP has now ended their technical partnership with Toyota

Stefan GP have announced today that they have ended their technical partnership with Toyota. The Serbian team, led by Zoran Stefanovich, had bought Toyota gearboxes, chassis and engines in expectation of getting a grid slot this year. However, since their application was rejected by the FIA, there will be no need for this partnership this year.

Stefanovich said:

"For 2010, it's not feasible to do it anymore. We are very grateful to Toyota, which is a great company and doing a 
great job in what they are doing. They are now organising things differently - they are now more profit-centered in 
TMG in Cologne.
We are looking for a solution which is feasible for us all the time. At the moment there is no opportunity to 
organise anything. We're basically looking to see which direction we will go in the very near future."

After this, he stated that another partnership with the Cologne squad was possible if the team were looking into applying for the 2011 F1 championship. At the moment, the FIA are open to submissions for the 13th grid place, and the reserve team. It is currently unclear if Stefan GP are going to apply for this position.

Hopefully they will, having come so close this year. To get hold of a reliable supply of vital car parts like they did is a great way of starting up an F1 team, and hopefully they can do the same next year. If they don’t, then they’re just giving up to a governing body which seriously mishandled what should have been a welcome sight, seeing many new teams in F1.

Stefan GP fires up car for first time

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

The Stefan GP team, who have yet to be placed on the entry list for this year’s world championship, have fired up their SF01 car for the first time.

The SF01 was actuallt designed by Toyota, which Stefan took over when Toyota dropped out of F1 last year.The engine start-up happened in Toyota’s old Cologne factory, which Stefan GP now uses, apart from two small exclusive areas.

Speaking to Autosport, Zoran Stefanovich says that everything is going according to plan, and the car will be ready for its initial test in Portimao later this month. However, they are still working on a tyre supply deal for this test. In a radio interview, he said:

“This morning, 19 February 2010, was another stepping stone for Stefan Grand Prix. This morning at 8:00, the first car – Stefan 01 – was fired up for the first time.”

“The car ran faultlessly, there was no problem whatsoever, and we could race or test on a racetrack, but we’re just waiting for tyres.”

At the moment, the Stefan GP team is compiled of 60 people, plus the former workers of Toyota, because of the two teams’ collaboration deal.

However, even if the test runs smoothly, Stefan GP still do not have a place on the entry list for 2010. It is believed that the team will only get a place if Campos or USF1 drops out, which seems likely. Stefanovich stated that he is expexting news from the FIA soon:

“We are expecting it to be clarified relatively shortly because all of us know what the situation is. In the meantime we are working very heavily on sorting out the drivers’ contracts.”

I mentioned last month that one of the drivers would be Kazuki Nakajima, and I was right, with Stefanovich confirming this today. Also, he revealed that the team are in negotiations with former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

“At the moment we have to say that we are very near. We are very near to a contract with Jacques Villeneuve, and probably also with another driver as our reserve driver. But the first one which will be with us is Kazuki Nakajima.”

I’ll be honest, I really don’t trust this team. First of all, Bernie Ecclestone has been in talks with the Serbian Prime Minister regarding Stefan GP, and when Bernie gets involved, the results rarely go well. Then, of all the engineers Zoran could have got, he went for Mike Coughlan. I hope you remember him as the McLaren engineer who stole information from Ferrari in 2007, and then went straight to Honda (with Nigel Stepney) for a job application. He allegedly attempted to sell the technical information on to other teams as well. I’ve never trusted him since, and I won’t trust any team around him.

Even if Campos or USF1 do drop out, the FIA don’t hand out places on the grid that quickly. Hopefully we can wait until 2011 and see more about this team.

Stefan GP to launch on 25th, and test 2 drivers

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Despite still having no entry for the 2010 world championship, Stefan GP have now announced that they are to test their new car at Portimao, Portugal, on the 25th February.

The car will be launched a few days before this test. I talked earlier today about them sending equipment to Bahrain, now they have moved forward with the news that they will spend 3 days testing in Portimao.

Stefan GP have also said that they are to test two drivers at this 3-day test. If they get a place on the 2010 grid, these two will probably become the team’s drivers. It is understood that Kazuki Nakajima will be one of the drivers.

The car, called the Stefan S01, has been developed by the team, but with technical support from Toyota, ever since Stefan GP bought their data, parts, and chassis. The engine, to be called the Stefan RG-01, has also been serviced by Toyota.

Clearly, the team are very confident, but will it pay off? It is understood that Zoran Stefanovich, the team owner, believes that two teams (probably Campos and USF1) are in trouble financially. He and the team believe that at least one of these teams will not make it to Bahrain, so Stefan will be ready to take their place. That is, if the FIA give them the place.

After all this effort, Stefan should be given a chance, but not while there’s 13 other teams on the grid. I’m getting a bit tired of all the rumours of the new teams struggling, so a stable new team would be a welcome sight.

Stefan GP heading to Bahrain

Despite not being on the entry list for the 2010 championship, Stefan GP will still turn up at the Bahrain GP in expextation of racing.

A statement on their site read:

“SGP becomes the first team in F1 history who [sent] a 40 foot container full of equipment to the race in Bahrain without having entry for 2010 season!”

Just a few days ago, we found out that Stefan GP had acquired Toyota’s technical data and parts. With their chassis, they certainly have potential.

Still though, it’s very risky (and quite arrogant) to announce this so early. I’m not sure the FIA would approve these actions. Anyway, the only way Stefan GP would get on the entry list is if one of the current teams drops out. Clearly, Zoran Stefanovich believes that either Campos or USF1 doesn’t have the drive to get to the grid.

Or, even if they aren’t allowed to race, they could always do a Hans Heyer

Kobayashi will keep aggressive driving style

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi

New BMW Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi has said that he does not plan to change his very aggressive driving style.

The Japanese driver impressed last year, even though he only drove in 2 races, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. His extreme driving style won him many instant fans, including myself. To put it this way, in only his second race, he got past the newly crowned world champion, Jenson Button.

Because he needed to perform well to get a seat for 2010, many people feared that he would become less aggressive. However, Kamui disagrees, saying:

“I don’t think it is something special for me, it’s just my style. I will keep like this, of course without crashing. It is my style and I won’t change.”

He also feels that he is better prepared this season:

“We come in to this season having enough time to prepare for it,” Kobayashi said. “The last two races [last year] I had no testing, so it was really difficult, but now I have so many tests and we can work with the car from the beginning of the season.”

Kobayashi said that he was unwilling to make predictions for 2010 before testing, but said:

“I will try to be the first Japanese driver to win, this is my ultimate goal. But at the moment it is too far away to think about that and I am just focused on my tests now.”

My analysis of his driving style staying is short and sweet: Yay!

Yet another diffuser row?

McLaren's diffuser was blocked away

McLaren's diffuser was blocked away

The prospect of another diffuser row boiling up again appears to have come back, with many teams pursuing “extreme” solutions.

At the launch of the McLaren MP4-25 today, McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe said the team had had pushed the diffuser regulations as far as possible. Not only this, but he believes that other teams will go for extreme solutions. He said:

“This is the first car in which we have had a clean sheet of paper to really exploit the interpretation [of diffusers] that was developed last year for a design of floors,” said Lowe.

“You will see we have produced a fairly extreme incarnation of that but we won’t be alone in that. We believe you will see some pretty extreme solutions on our competitors’ cars as well.”

The writing on the wall comes from the fact that, when the MP4-25 was launched today, the diffuser was blocked from view with black boards. However, Lowe believes there is no rule infringement, saying:

“We think the interpretation is very clear,” he said. “In certain aspects we have sought guidance from the FIA and they have come out with very clear interpretation, understanding and guidance – and we think that has been made available to all the teams.”

“We are hoping for a much cleaner start to the season then we had a year ago in terms of the teams’ collective understanding of the basis from which we go racing.”

Ferrari, however, say differently. Aldo Costa told Gazzetta dello Sport:

“We were and still are convinced that the double diffuser concept was illegal. We feel there may still be interpretation over this, as the rules leave the door open to many possibilities. It’s up to the FIA to supervise, but we are rather worried.”

This sort of thing coming up again would just be a disaster. The double-decker diffuser row last year put so much doubt into people’s minds and, as Fernando Alonso predicted, decided the outcome of the championship. Hopefuly, the FIA have learnt their lessons from last year, and hopefully the teams won’t have been too radical with this year’s design.

Stefan GP have deal with Toyota

Toyota's technical data may go to Stefan GP

Toyota's technical data may go to Stefan GP

Stefan GP have claimed that they are on course to enter Formula 1, as they have agreed a deal with Toyota.

A statement on the Stefan Gp site said:

“Stefan GP has just come to a basic agreement with Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) that Stefan GP will receive technical supports from TMG.”

It’s good to see that Toyota’s technical data hasn’t been wasted. Martin Whitmarsh said earlier today that it was odd that nobody had yet aquired Toyota’s technical information.

Toyota had already started on their Tf110, so it is obvious that Stefan GP was planning to race that car as their S-01 for 2010. This is because they claim they have already passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, and was being sent for further testing.

At the moment, there are already 13 teams on the grid, and some teams (ie. Williams and nobody else, surprise surprise!) do not want 14 teams on the grid. So, at the moment, the only way for Stefan GP to get in is if another team drops out. Campos, USF1 or maybe Renault in a year’s time would be the only chances.

However, there is little to no chance of them getting to the grid for 2010 grid. However, another opportunity arises here, as that means that Stefan GP can offer unlimited testing to as many young drivers as they want, for an entire year. Not only would this be a brilliant opportunity for many young drivers, but it would give huge amounts of technical data to the team. Toyota did this in 2001, where they decided to stay out of entering F1 for an extra year, and do more testing.

A virtual goodbye from Toyota

It would be very easy for Toyota to simply walk away from F1 quietly, even after 9 years of squandered money. However, they have not done so, as they have made a website to say goodbye to the F1 world.

You can view the site here. It is a nice compilation of pictures and memories from the years of Toyota. Each picture includes a comment from Toyota supporters.

It’s simple but nice. The navigation is actually quite poor for a flash site, but I’m not bothered. It’s worth a visit, even if you never cared for Toyota.

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