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Author Topic: Toyota are on a mission!  (Read 1843 times)

Offline Wizzo

Toyota are on a mission!
« on: January 01, 2007, 02:42:44 PM »
Toyota has big plans for Formula 1: in 2007 it will host the Japanese Grand Prix and supply engines to a rival team. But it also has another mission - finding and training a world-class Grand Prix driver.

In 2000 it launched the Toyota Drivers Program foster and finance young drivers. So far the program has produced 15 drivers including Kazuki Nakajima, who has signed as a test driver with Williams for 2007.

21-year-old Nakajima is the son of former F1 driver Satoru Nakajima; he's seen as the frontrunner in the program's goal of sending a full-fledged driver to F1 and scoring the first ever victory by a Japanese racer.

Toyota motorsport manager Hiromi Hayashi said: "We won't be satisfied to see Nakajima just become an F1 driver - we want him to stand on the podium. It's our goal to foster a competitive driver from Japan."

Toyota joined F1 in 2002 and plans to boost its presence in the sport in 2007. It will continue to operate Panasonic Toyota Racing but has also agreed to provide engines for Williams, and has grabbed the rights to host the Japanese Grand Prix from rival Honda.

The 2007 Japanese race will be held on September 30 at Toyota's Fuji circuit at the foot of Mount Fuji.

Hayashi believes Japanese drivers have improved substantially over the past five years but there are still challenging times ahead.

He said: "Our benchmark is an F1 victory, and I'm sure that our drivers, led by Nakajima, have the potential, although further efforts are still needed.

He pointed to the introverted nature and insufficient foreign language skills of Japanese drivers that prevent them from competing against aggressive European rivals.

"Japanese drivers' toughest hurdle is English, which is the common language in most teams.

" Japanese drivers are also too shy to promote themselves, compared with European drivers who know how to highlight their advantages.

"F1 teams used to buy out elite drivers, he said. "But nowadays they try to find young drivers with potential and foster them - just like Mercedes did for Michael Schumacher.

"We hope a second Schumacher will come out of our team." Sapa-AFP

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