Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: BlackJack’sBriefs
As with my series on drivers, I started with the Wiki ‘List of Formula One Constructors’ and quickly reduced 136 to 43 eligible constructors by removing the Champions, and those hopefuls who failed to last beyond two or three seasons, and also those who only competed before 1958. [See Part-20 – Intro for details.]
“Show me the money!”
Although Toyota’s involvement in international competition started in 1957 it’s main interest dates from 1972 when Swede, Ove Andersson, used a Celica in the RAC Rally. By 1993 Toyota had established Toyota Motorsport GmbH, with Andersson in charge. With Sainz, Kankkunen, and Auriol driving they won four WRC drivers’ titles, and three constructors, based in Cologne (Koln). In 1995 the team was banned for 12 months for deliberately cheating.
In 1997 the team moved to the circuits with the Le Mans ‘GT-One’ car and, in 1999, announced a F1 project, still based in Cologne – Ove maintained he already had an efficient and loyal team there and it would be easier to import a few F1 specialists than move everything to Britain.
After an incredibly up & down career with spells, in turn, at McNamara (?), ATS, RAM, Arrows, Ferrari, ATS again, Rial, Zakspeed, Leyton House, March, Minardi, Ferrari again,, and Minardi again, Toyota invited Austrian designer, Gustav Brunner, to develop the TF101 which was extensively tested (23,000 kilometres) on circuits around the world for a whole year until Toyota debuted in 2002, and in the process forfeited the $11.M FIA bond, for arriving a year late. Gene Haas take note.
Initial design work was performed by André de Cortanze (another man who went round the block a few times – Alpine, Renault, Peugeot, Sauber, Ligier), and Jean-Claude Martens (who later moved to Hispania), both later sidelined by Brunner.
The test drivers throughout 2001, Mika Salo and Allan McNish, continued with the team for 2002, with the TF102 but, after eighteen months preparation, and apparently more Yen than anybody in the paddock could have hankered after, they managed to score just 2pts, with two 6th places from the first three events. At least they were more reliable than many other new teams… but they were still at the bottom, with Minardi and Arrows.
Salo seems to have been round the block (and the cylinder-head, and the sump as well) so many times he appears to have driven for most of the constructors in this list, but 2002 and Toyota marked his final season in F1. McNish was always considered a promising driver but he just didn’t seem to be in the right place at the right time, and the breaks didn’t come his way, perhaps partly because he was too good in sports-cars. In 2002 Allan was 33, which is a tad old these days to be starting in F1, and was out-qualified by Salo 14:3. After a further year as Renault test- driver Allan returned to sports-cars and, in 2013 became WEC World Champion – at 44.
The TF103 was a logical, if not inspired development but it also had a newer engine, and two new drivers: Olivier Panis (who won for Ligier at Monaco in 1996, and had two more podiums for Prost in 1997 but broke both legs mid-season and was never the same again, though always respected as a development driver), and Cristiano de Matta (fresh from his 2002 IndyCar Championship).
It seemed to be a much better year, with 16pts, because of a new scoring system, but… with the 2002 system they would have had just 4pts. De Matta out-qualified and out-scored Panis. Highlight of the year was running 1-2 at Silverstone, having pitted when the safety-car was deployed, because a lunatic spectator invaded the track. [See: ʻOTDʼ-20th July]
Although retaining the same drivers, and bringing in Mike Gascoyne to replace Brunner mid-season, the year was a mess for Toyota… which is putting it mildly. Still apparently spending more than anyone else on the F1 grids, the TF104 was so slow out of the box it had to be coaxed out by dangling front-wing end-plates in front of it’s nose, on a piece of string. After Brunner’s departure it seemed Cristiano required no assistance to follow him when his performance was also criticised (and da Matta had also been critical of Gascoyne), and he returned to IndyCars, and was soon back in the winning groove. Unfortunately he had a massive accident in 2006 and, although incredibly lucky to survive, he never raced again.
His place at Toyota was taken by test-driver Ricardo Zonta (who had failed to impress in three years with BAR and Jordan), who did no better… and was invited to commit F1 hara-kiri in favour of Jarno Trulli… whose situation at this point in his career is perhaps worth a little consideration.
After six mediocre years with Prost, Jordan and Renault, Jarno was joined, and beaten by Alonso but, in 2004, Jarno held his own and, prior to France, was leading the Spaniard 41:25 in the Championship… and had out-qualified Alonso 7:3 (including Pole, and a win, at Monaco) and then, perhaps Jarno’s biggest crime: he pipped Alonso for 3rd place at Barcelona, by half a second, denying Alonso a podium at his home GP.
Now… for reasons not revealed on any Twit site, ‘Basher’ Briatore was not a happy bunny and his relationship with Jarno soured. After Jarno made a last corner error in France, allowing Rubens to nip past and take the final podium place, ‘Bossy Boots’ apparently went berserk… and I’m thinking, ‘those psycho-rural types (who use a shotgun instead of a banjo) you see in American movies, unshaven, drooling brown spit, who take in city-folk for the night so they can murder them in their beds.’ [© Garrison Keillor]
In the next five races Jarno was out-qualified by Fernando 3:2 (despite another Pole at Spa), and finished 9th-11th, whereas Fernando had two 3rd places. Jarno had apparently been expecting to stay with Renault for 2005 but. when ‘Bonkers-Briatore’ heard Jarno had been looking elsewhere, he fired Jarno after Monza.
Maybe Fernando found some extra talent, or Jarno suddenly lost his, or… well, Singapore was just round the corner and, although you might have thought of that, ‘I couldn’t possibly comment…’ [© House of Cards]
So… Trulli joined Toyota, and stayed for another five years but, before that, both cars (along with Williams) had been disqualified in Canada (for illegal brake-ducts) while, later in the season, Toyota was accused of industrial espionage having apparently been in possession of stolen data files from Ferrari… “To lose one set of files is unfortunate. To lose two sets appears to be sheer carelessness…!” [© Oscar Wilde – sort of.]
Toyota refused to return the files, claiming their own data had become mixed up with it and they didn’t think it was right for Ferrari to have access to it. It is only fair to record that Toyota was not charged – just Andersson, Brunner and Rene Hilhorst, all of whom had left the company – but it certainly didn’t help their image and perhaps the seppuku short-swords were being re-sharpened.
After winning six races in six years at Williams Ralf Schumacher arrived to join Trulli, avowing to now have a better chance for the Championship than he ever did at Williams. This might have been a riposte after Williams declined to pay his requested salary but it was also patheticallty premature as, in the next three years, Ralf would not win another GP – before retiring.
Using Gascoyne’s TF105 which, for a change, came out of the box running, and unaided, Jarno wiped Ralf’s nose by out-qualifying him 16:1 in the first seventeen races, as well as putting himself on the front row twice, and on Pole at Indianapolis… where all the Michelin-shod teams withdrew and Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi shared the six points-scoring places between them – I bet you can’t guess the finishing order… With the arrival of a much- modified TF105B, Ralf claimed Pole in Japan, and was also fastest in China, and they finished almost equal in 6th & 7th places in the Championship – Jarno’s best scores being two 2nd, and one 3rd place, to Ralf’s two 3rd places.
It was Toyota’s best year by far, scoring points seven times in the first five races, including three podiums for Trulli, and finishing the season in a firm 4th place, sandwiched by Ferrari and Williams.
With the arrival of Honda, and the similarly-engined, Super Aguri, there were now three Japanese teams on the F1 grids, while Minardi had sold out to Red Bull, and Jordan had already morphed into the deeply unattractive Midland etc. operstion. After 2005, hopes were high for race wins this year, and even a Championship challenge but, in that inexplicably up & down way that life progresses, it was not to be. This was the year that the 3-part shoot-out qualifying procedure was adopted and the early signs for the TF106 were shown by Ralf getting bogged down in Q1, with Jarno losing out in Q2, and the cars finishing 14th & 16th in the race.
Things could only improve, and Ralf did get onto the podium in Australia, but that would be his best place all year, whereas Jarno’s best performance was 4th in America. The team finished the season 6th, while Honda (ex-BAR) achieved 4th place with one 1st and two 2nd places – in their first year.
Oddly, after Ralf’s podium in Australia, Gascoyne was ‘given the elbow’. He apparently didn’t like the Toyota corporate management, while they didn’t like the TF106… which was odd at that point. They reached an ‘amicable’ solution but it would be easy to argue that, having turned around both Jordan (1998) and Renault (2000) fortunes, the best thing that happened to Toyota (2005) was the arrival of Mike Gascoyne… while his departure sounded its death-knell.
Unable to find a replacement, Toyota promoted Pascal Vasselon from within, and ended the year back in 6th place.
Perhaps surprisingly, both drivers stayed for a third year but the ‘new’ car, TF107, was even less successful, its best placings being 6th in America and Hungary. At the end of the season, after a series of poor qualifying performances, and having not been offered a new contract, despite Ralf offering to take a ($17.M.!) pay-cut, and with apparently no alternative offers from elsewhere, Ralf announced he would be leaving, for a ‘new challenge’… which became five years, with little success, in DTM.
It was reported that, in 2007, Ralf’s salary was second only to Kimi Raikkonen’s. Nice work if you can get it...
The team again finished the season 6th, whereas Williams, using the same Toyota power, finished 4th, with nearly three times as many points.
Ever hopeful (or just well paid…) Trulli stayed for another year, joined by relative newcomer, Timo Glock, whose rise to F1 was at first relatively normal, if not particularly remarkable, via karting and F3, to a test-driver role at Jordan in 2004, at the age of 22. In Canada he stepped into the shoes of Giorgio Pantano (for reasons that aren’t clear) and finished a surprised 7th, though he then moved across the pond for a year in IndyCars, placed 2nd in Canada, and won Rookie of the Year.
Then he resumed the more normal approach to F1 by competing in GP2 for 2006-07, taking the Championship in the second year, which got him the offer from Toyota.
Pantano, having been dropped by Jordan, had a couple of IndyCars races during a full season of GP2, where he gradually improved and took the title, in 2008. But then F1 seemed to not notice him and, two years later, he returned to IndyCars, without success, and has now faded away altogether.
Without Gascoyne to re-work the unsatisfactory TF107, Vasselon returned to the TF106 as a basis for his TF108 design which, in pre-season testing recorded fastest time at both Jerez and Barcelona and, throughout the season, usually got to Q3, and often finished in the points, with each driver getting to stand on the podium once… But it wasn’t quite enough. Apart from seven retirements, the team finished out of the points thirteen times, to end up 5th overall, well ahead of Toro Rosso, who in turn trounced Red Bull, and Williams, with Honda bringing up the rear, and soon to depart the Big Top altogether. Force India, in their first season, failed to score, as did Super Aguri, who left the circus after four races.
This was a funny old year as, from the off, the best cars in the first few races were consistently Toyota and Brawn (Honda) so it was no surprise when the other teams protested them, and Williams, on account of an ‘illegal’ double-diffuser. The FIA scrutineers in Australia disagreed and the cars finished in 1st -4th, with Williams 6th. An appeal was also quashed by the FIA and there was a scrabble from the other designers to play catch-up.
By the fourth race Red Bull had pulled up to 2nd in the Championship but this didn’t stop Trulli and Glock locking out the front row – a sight for very sore Japanese eyes. At the tenth race, in Hungary Ferrari eased Toyota down to 4th place and the Toyota challenge evaporated, perhaps through insufficient development as everybody else forged ahead.
At Valencia McLaren now showed their mettle… and Toyota dropped down to 5th but in the twelfth race, at Spa, Jarno was back on the front row, one-tenth of a second behind a surprising, and surprised, Giancarlo Fisichella, in a Force India…! but decent race positions continued to elude Toyota, until Singapore, where Timo used a different fuel strategy to finish 2nd, behind Lewis. Alonso took 3rd and pathetically dedicated it to Briatore, who sadly couldn’t be there, as a result of the previous year’s ‘CrashGate’.
In Japan Jarno again qualified 2nd, and finished 2nd in the race. Timo crashed during practice, didn’t race, and was replaced by Kamui Kobayashi for Brazil, and Abu Dhabi, where the team wrapped up their season in 6th & 7th place, Kamui taking his first F1 points in his second F1 appearance.
Toyota have no reason to be ashamed of their eighth season in F1 although they might be remembered better if they could have won just a single race. However, economics is money, and it is believed Toyota spent more money to not win a Gp then anyone else could imagine spending. As a result, with Toyota posting their company’s first financial loss since (apparently) 1937, in November they belatedly announced their withdrawal from F1.
2010, and all that . . .
Toyota’s half-completed cars for 2010 were snapped up by Stefan Grand Prix, who aimed to be one of the FIA’s new ‘wonder teams’, but their application was turned down.
Stefan previously tried to enter F1 in 1996, and again in 1997 by buying the abortive MasterCard-Lola team, neither of which were considered viable by the FIA. With Toyota’s exit another opportunity arose, but it went to Sauber. Stefan then tried to merge with USF1, which had been forced to drop out, and was also rejected by the FIA, being just two weeks from the opening event of 2010.
Nevertheless Stefan loaded up his Toyota ‘kit-cars’ and arrived in Bahrain, without tyres. Bernie announced he had personally spoken with the Serbian Prime Minister and was assured Stefan did have sufficient funds. Which was nice…
Later in the year Stefan joined fourteen other prospective applicants for 2011, all of whom were turned down. In January, 2014, Stefan tried again, but only Haas Formula (and allegedly one other…) were accepted for 2015, and Haas has already said he needs to delay until 2016…
Stefan had signed Kazuki Nakajima to drive and allegedly planned to add Jacques Villeneuve… plus Juan-Pablo Montoya as… wait for it… reserve/test-driver… Oh, my giddy aunt… The last I heard, Stefan had left the Toyota bits in Bahrain, having not paid a single dinar for them.
It never used to be like this… when odd individual cars and teams turned up to race, as and when they were able, without causing any disrespect to F1…!
Of the Toyota drivers Jarno Trulli was undoubtedly the most successful – as well as 2 poles, a fastest lap, and 7 podiums, he also scored nearly half of Toyota’s 278pts. in five years. Ralf Schumacher made the podium 3 times, had 1 pole, and scored 80pts. In three years, Timo Glock scored more points per race and went on to Virgin/ Marussia for three years, and failed to score a further point, before moving to DTM. Trulli moved to Lotus/Team Lotus, with the same zero result. He was signed for a third season (now Caterham) but after the first pre-season test was dropped in favour of Vitaly Petrov… while Jarno, presumably, dropped out in favour of his vineyard in Abruzzo, where Trulli currently enjoys his freedom.
And then there was one . . .
I mentioned previously that Gustav Brunner, before his many appearances in F1, had started with ‘McNamara’, an ‘unheard’ of team, formed by Lieutenant Francis McNamara, a United States Green Beret, who built and raced FVee cars while stationed in Germany.
In a supporting race for the 1969 German F1 GP, Helmut Marko won for McNamara, on the last lap, after a pitched battle with the top Kaimann driver, Niki Lauda. The clash between these two Austrians became a part of FVee history.
In 1969 a chassis designed by Dan Hawkes (ex-Lotus) for F3 was ‘adapted’ into the F3 McNamara-Hawkes Sebring Mk3, and driven by Marko, who also served as ‘marketing director’ and ‘company lawyer’. In 1970 several examples were sold.
Brunner asked for a job and Marko initially put him in charge of the stores… Peter Arundel (ex-Lotus F1 driver) and ‘spannerman’ Bob Dance (Lotus, March, Brabham, Audi and Bentley) also worked with McNamara at some time. The early cars were very Brabham-like, being designed by ex-Brabham/Lola wrench, Joe Karasek, who took over when Hawkes suffered a heart attack, in ‘a big Bavarian bathtub’…
By 1970 Francis had been discharged and, ‘with his wife’s considerable fortune’, had established a flourishing business. With STP magnate, Andy Granatelli, McNamara built a car for Indianapolis, for Mario Andretti, which finished 6th. Incidentally Jack Brabham finished 13th (after leading, for one lap), which I only mention because he was the only non-American driver on the 33-car grid…! A second attempt in 1971 fared no better but resulted in Francis suing Andy, for non-payment, and the subsequent failure of the company.
The team also provided modifications for Andretti’s F1 STP-March 701, although it was no faster afterwards than before. Incidentally, the Indy chassis were also built in Germany, so perhaps it’s not so odd to build F1 cars in Carolina…
McNamara went from FVee to Indy-500 (and F1) in about two years, and was finished, two years later.
Francis McNamara’s star faded, after being embroiled in disputes with clients, whose letters of complaint were returned, torn into pieces, and without comment. Marko and other key staff sought new jobs.
When Bonnie McNamara was found dead, and inquiries failed to establish why or how, Interpol began an investigation… Francis McNamara disappeared – and was never found.