Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) has today opened its doors to the media for the first time since its Formula 1 project began just over two years ago. Builders worked throughout the harsh weather of last winter to get the factory extension built,...
Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) has today opened its doors to the media for the first time since its Formula 1 project began just over two years ago.
Builders worked throughout the harsh weather of last winter to get the factory extension built, and it is now almost fully operational. The facilities are as good as most of their F1 rivals, providing Toyota with a solid launch pad into the fiercely competitive world of F1.
In little more than one-and-a-half years the site has increased in size from an 18,000 square-metre Le Mans sportscar project / world rally base (from which they won seven world rally titles) into an F1 facility around 30,000 square metres in size. With their road car partners, Toyota Germany, based on the other side of 'Toyota Allee', their site on the outskirts of Cologne is now Toyota's most sophisticated manufacturing base in Europe.
TMG's facelift cost 250 million marks (125 million euros) and resulted in a 60:40 split in floor space between the chassis and engine departments. It is here where Toyota build their complete car. There is only one other current Formula 1 team that produces both chassis and engine.
The fact that Toyota is making both the engine and chassis together enables these teams to work very closely and consider the complete car as one, right from the concept stage.
In keeping with such expansion, staff levels at TMG have grown accordingly. There are now around 550 employees from 27 nations working there, making Toyota the most multi-cultural, multi-national F1 team on the grid - the United Nations of Formula 1. These statistics endorse Toyota Motorsport boss Ove Andersson's decision to set-up shop in Germany, rather than joining the seven UK-based F1 teams in Formula 1's Silicon Valley.
"We always believed that if we built a high-quality facility here in Cologne, where we have been based since 1979, we would never have trouble recruiting the staff we want," says Andersson.
As part of Toyota's investment in the local community, the team has recently set up an apprentice scheme for German school leavers. This scheme will guide and train them in many different disciplines on their way to a career in Formula 1. The very first Toyota apprentices began their placements on 1 August 2001.
Within the Cologne facility, design, research and development, manufacturing, build and testing are all undertaken. Whilst the complete car is created under one roof, the various disciplines are split into the two traditional groups - engine and chassis.
The engine side is managed by Norbert Kreyer, who oversees the production of Toyota's V10 engine from design to build to testing and development. The technical aspects of the chassis side, which include the chassis design, gearbox, and technical test and race operations, are all under the control of Dago Röhrer.
Manufacturing is headed by Malcolm Boote, who takes care of the critical in-house areas of fabrication, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining, Composites and External Purchasing.
Additionally, there is a never-ending flow of information between the factory and Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.
To highlight the comprehensive planning that has gone into the facility, there is even an on-site recycling unit, which sees the team stand apart from other F1 teams. As the world's third-biggest car manufacturer, Toyota understands its responsibility to the environment. Hence, virtually all used materials are recycled, rather than simply thrown away.
The public face of the team, through its Marketing and Communications department, is managed by Peter Ball, but then there is also the whole business infrastructure, which includes Personnel, Finance, Freight and Administration.
It is almost one year to the day since Toyota Motorsport announced its current driver line-up of Mika Salo and Allan McNish. Salo, in particular, signed his contract with a degree of blind faith in the team because in the early days they had nothing to show for themselves: neither an F1 infrastructure nor any F1 experience. But that situation has changed dramatically.
With only just over six months to go before Toyota starts its Formula 1 campaign in March 2002, the team has offered journalists a unique opportunity to visit the facility where it all happens.