The Panasonic Toyota Racing team has formally named its test driver Allan McNish as the team's second starting driver alongside Finland's Mika Salo when team makes its Formula 1 debut next March, Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday. The 31-year-old...
The Panasonic Toyota Racing team has formally named its test driver Allan McNish as the team's second starting driver alongside Finland's Mika Salo when team makes its Formula 1 debut next March, Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday.
The 31-year-old Briton has been Panasonic Toyota's test driver since the team started testing in March along with Salo, 34, who has already been named as the main driver for next season's F1 series.
"I have been deeply involved with the team in the development of the Toyota F1 car from the very beginning of the project," said McNish in a statement.
"In the process, my ability as an F1 driver was recognised and I am very happy to have been officially chosen as a driver for the coming season. This fills me with confidence that I can accomplish the difficult tasks ahead.
"There is a mountain of things we must do before our first race next year, and I intend to fully devote myself to bringing out my very best," he added.
In July, Toyota announced that it had signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Japan's giant electric company Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., giving the team an all-Japanese look.
Toyota, seeking to promote its image among younger drivers, will intensify its rivalry with Honda in next year by joining F1 racing as a full works team.
Honda, which quit F1 racing in 1992 after eight successful years as an engine supplier, made a comeback last season with an engine for former world champion Jacques Villeneuve's British American Racing outfit.
"As our team has yet to participate in active F1 competition, there are numerous challenges that we must face down the road," said Toyota's managing director Tsutomu Tomita, who is also the chairman of its German-based headquarters Toyota Motorsport GmbH.
"Allan McNish is fast and is gifted with exceptional development potential. As such, we have concluded that combining Mika and Allan in our first year would be the best way to go," Tomita said.