Ove Andersson will step down as Toyota's team principal and Tsutomu Tomita will take over the position on January 1st 2004. Andersson, who has spent 30 years in management of Toyota's European motorsport division, will become an advisor to the company.
Panasonic Toyota Racing joined Formula One in 2002 with drivers Mika Salo and Allan McNish. In 2003, with Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta, the team finished eighth overall in the constructors' standings.
Tomita said in a statement from Toyota: "We can not thank Ove enough for his contribution to Toyota Motorsport's activities and achievements. Ove's move is along the lines of Toyota's policy which sees its employees taking up new roles at certain points in their career within the company."
"From next season I will manage both the company and the race activities together with President John Howett. With the help and advice of Ove, my mission is to make Panasonic Toyota Racing one of the top Formula 1 teams as soon as possible."
Ove Andersson began his career in motorsport as a rally driver and started his own team in 1972 with the Toyota 1600GT. In 1973 Jean Todt, now Ferrari team boss, was co-driver to Andersson on occasion. In 1975 the team moved to Brussels and became Toyota Team Europe. Through the seventies Andersson was successful in rallying with Toyota but he retired from competition in the late seventies to concentrate on building the team, which moved to Cologne.
In the late nineties Toyota entered the Le Mans 24 hours and in 1999 the team quit rallying to focus on creating its Formula One challenger. Andersson was at the helm when the TF102 appeared on the grid for the first time at Melbourne in 2002.
"I want to thank Toyota for having given me chances in its various motorsport activities and I am proud to continue to support the company in my new role," said Andersson. "Thirty years ago I started with three people in Belgium. Since then I have set a lot of targets and I have achieved them together with Toyota."
"Together, we manufactured Toyota's first ever Formula 1 car. When it appeared on the grid at the Australian GP in 2002, it was an amazing feeling for me that I will never forget. I am sure Toyota will succeed in Formula 1 and I look forward to seeing its first victory in the future."