TMG TOYOTA F1 l PHOTOS BY PETER RUEMMLER, STEFFEN SCHULZ AND KLAUS EWALD
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Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) at German Cologne once had been founded by Ove Andersson as a rally team called Toyota Team Europe (tte) in the Belgian capital of Bruxelles. While competing very successfully in the World Rally Championship, they failed several times winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the other motorsport category they were taking part in. Following the model of other famous motor companies like Ferrari FIAT, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Renault, Peugeot, Honda and Ford the biggest car maker in the world, Toyota, decided to enter Grand Prix Racing at the beginning at the 21st century. The Cologne Marsdorf based facilities were intensively increased up to the state of the art standard of Formula One. Under the leadership of Andersson qualified Grand Prix experienced personell was acquired first to do a never to be seen one year lasting research and testing programme before entering the worldchampionship. But when Ferrari also had switched to V10 the FIA nearly overnight decided to ban twelve-cylinder-engines from Formula One the Toyota project, based on a V12, was delayed for one year. In 2001 Finland´s Mika Salo and Scot Alan McNish, former test driver at McLaren, Benetton and Lola, simulated a complete Grand Prix season under realistic circumstances before starting the team`s maiden season in 2002 backed by their title sponsor Panasonic. The aim was absolutely clear to win both the drivers`and the constructors`title as soon as possible and the expectations were extremely high also under the aspect, that Toyota`s national rival Honda, a much smaller company, had been multiple world champions being the works engine partner of Williams and especially of McLaren. But competing in eight Grand Prix seasons the Toyota drivers, among them aces and Grand Prix winners like Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli and Olivier Panis, failed to score a single Grand Prix win despite the team being excellently funded by the parent company in Japan. In most cases pretty competitive the definite breakthrough did not come the under German laws working team`s way caused by deep personal, structural and cultural difficulties. After the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the Toyota headquarters in Japan ordered TMG to withdraw from Formula One after competing in 140 Grandes Prix, scoring 13 podium finishes, three pole positions, three fastest laps and 278.5 points overall. One of the reasons also might have been the world financial crises caused by the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. also making Ford with Jaguar, BMW and Honda retire from the sport shortly after another. The attempt of a private businessman to buy the completely developed Toyota TF110s to compete in the 2010 Formula One Worldchampionship as a constructor in his own rights failed by the resistance of the FIA. One of the two TF110s built until that time is on exhibition at the Prototyp Automuseum in Hamburg taken off the traditional red and white Toyota livery.
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