Former Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne starts his tenure at Toyota today (December 1st) and is ready to start building on what the team achieved in 2003. With Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta, Toyota fought in the midfield for fifth...
Former Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne starts his tenure at Toyota today (December 1st) and is ready to start building on what the team achieved in 2003. With Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta, Toyota fought in the midfield for fifth place in the constructors' championship this season. Although it was eventually beaten down to eighth, two points behind Jaguar and three behind Sauber, the team showed a marked improvement from its debut year.
Gustav Brunner is Toyota's chief designer and Gascoyne sees no problems with working alongside him. Gascoyne's role as technical director for the chassis involves working with Brunner and technical director for the engine department Luca Marmorini.
"Basically, my role as Technical Director Chassis will cover all technical aspects of the design and the operation of the Toyota F1 chassis at the factory in Cologne and also at races and tests. Luca Marmorini is Technical Director Engine and is in charge of the engine side of things."
"I know Gustav Brunner for many years and we always got on very well together. We both understand our respective roles as Technical Director Chassis and Chief Designer, which are very complementary, so I anticipate having absolutely no problems."
Gascoyne is not just concentrating on Toyota's 2004 challenger, the TF104, but also on the future and, naturally, is aiming for the team to be world champions. "Hopefully the TF104 will be competitive from an early stage so I won't need to have too much influence on it," he said. "But the important thing is to set Toyota up as a team that is going to win the world championship in the future. We are not to going to necessarily achieve that by focussing on the 2004 car, but I think we will be looking more long-term."
Moving to a new team is nothing new to Gascoyne, who previously worked with Tyrell, Sauber and Jordan before Renault, and he doesn't think settling in to Toyota will take him long. As for the drivers, including tester Ricardo Zonta, Gascoyne has confidence in their talents.
"I think Panasonic Toyota Racing has an excellent driver line-up," he said. "Olivier has a tremendous amount of experience in Formula 1 and has always been very, very quick. Cristiano had a very good first season and has a proven racing history in America. In 2003, on circuits he had never driven before, he showed some very impressive performances."
"With testing regulations and the possibility to run a third car on Fridays during race weekends, I think Ricardo is absolutely the perfect person. You need an experienced test driver who knows the circuits and he has driven in Formula 1 before, so he'll be ideal. He has a very good reputation and I rate him highly."
Toyota was testing at Valencia and Paul Ricard last week, with the TF103 chassis, and the TF104 is due on the test track in January. The new car will be launched at Toyota's factory in Cologne, Germany, on January 17th.