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Toyota F1

Toyota F1 (Cars)

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Panasonic Toyota Racing is a Formula One team owned by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota and based in Cologne, Germany. Toyota announced their plans to participate in F1 in 1999 (19 years ago), and after extensive testing with their TF101 initial car, the team made their debut in 2002 (16 years ago). The new team has grown from Toyota's long standing European Toyota Motorsport organisation, which has previously competed in the World Rally Championship and the 24 hours of Le Mans. Despite a point in their first ever race, Toyota F1 have not yet won a grand prix, their best finish so far being 2nd place in 2005 (13 years ago), during which they achieved three podiums and a pole position, as well as finishing fourth in the world constructors' championship with 88 points.

Toyota has drawn criticism for their lack of success, especially after the 2006 (12 years ago) Formula One season, in which the team's best result was 3rd place in the Australian Grand Prix. Toyota is an extremely well funded team, but despite this, strong results have never been consistent.

Notable drivers

Based on a racer's credentials, Olivier Panis could be classed as Toyota F1's first notable driver, being their first man with a Grand Prix win to his name. However, that win was in unusual circumstances, when many of the front-runners (drivers for teams like Williams, Ferrari (95 pics) and McLaren) dropped out in the wet, tricky conditions. Otherwise, Panis had never driven for front-running teams, and joined Toyota in 2003 (15 years ago) after a season with BAR that yielded just 4 points. Therefore, the following are racers of calibre who have shone for Toyota, and who have had reasonable success in F1 generally.

Ralf Schumacher
The German driver came to Toyota in 2005 (13 years ago) from Williams with 6 Grand Prix wins to his name. After a 2004 (14 years ago) season with the Grove-based team that yielded just one top-three race finish, a need for change was felt and Schumacher joined Toyota. The Japanese team had yet to score a podium finish. However he settled in comfortably.

Schumacher appeared slower than Trulli in the first few races of the 2005 (13 years ago) season, as the latter hit the headlines as he took Toyota to new heights. But Schumacher caught up, and ended the season on top, getting two podiums, the first of which was chasing his brother Michael for 2nd place in the Hungarian race.

He struggled throughout 2006 (12 years ago) after saying he expected Toyota to score its first win, and once again, his best result was just 3rd. Schumacher split with long term manager Willi Weber during this season, and partnered with Hans Mahr, who tried to project Schumacher back into a winning team - a move that did not work.

Schumacher, however, wanted to prove he was still content with being at Toyota F1 through the following close season, and said he was more likely to still win the F1 title with Toyota than any other team, and that Toyota would be the team of the future. On 1 October, Schumacher announced that he would be leaving Toyota at the end of the 2007 (11 years ago) season for a new challenge, although at the time, he did not clearly state what this challenge would be.

Jarno Trulli
Being Toyota's first recruitment of a top driver and Grand Prix winner, Jarno Trulli's move from Renault was big news. It was late during the 2004 (14 years ago) season, and Trulli was dropped from Renault's race line-up after a season in which he struggled compared to his team-mate Fernando Alonso, and replaced by Jacques Villeneuve. Soon after, Toyota F1 revealed that Trulli would race for them during the 2005 (13 years ago) season and beyond. However, Olivier Panis retired from racing before the year was out, leaving a space in Toyota's race attack, meaning Trulli was promoted earlier than anticipated. Qualifying 6th on his Toyota debut in Japan was the start of a competitive run for the team. No points were scored that year, although Trulli comfortably outpaced his team-mate Ricardo Zonta.

Trulli settled in well with Toyota, finding it easier to focus when not on tenterhooks with the Team Principal as he was with Renault's Flavio Briatore. As such, the first spark of form that that aspect was yielding was when Trulli qualified 2nd at Melbourne - Toyota's first front row start. He dropped off in the race with tyre trouble, but then went on to score Toyota's first podiums in Malaysia and Bahrain.

However, a term was created in that year - the 'Trulli Train'. This highlighted a recurring snag to Trulli's career. It referred to when Trulli qualified in a high position, but dropped away in the races (mainly due to tyre degradation in 2005 (13 years ago)). The result was the build up of a queue behind Trulli's car, which was present at numerous races throughout 2005 (13 years ago), albeit not in his podium-scoring performances. Team-mate Schumacher tended not to suffer from these problems as much, partly because he often did not qualify as far up the grid as Trulli. He trailed off towards the end of the 2005 (13 years ago) season, ending the year behind Ralf Schumacher.

Mechanical failure was a factor with the Italian's 2006 (12 years ago) campaign, with the loss of podium finishes occurring all too often. It took Trulli until round 9 to score points, but he did so with 6th place after qualifying 4th. More great results followed, with his run from 22nd to 4th at Indianapolis standing out. However, it was a year with a notable lack of points scored, and did nothing for Trulli's reputation, allowing his critics to claw back at him.

The 2007 (11 years ago) season was the first in which, when paired together at the Japanese team, Trulli outscored Ralf Schumacher overall. While Schumacher left the team, Trulli's new team-mate was the reigning GP2 Champion Timo Glock.

Trulli began the 2009 (9 years ago) season with a 3rd place at the Australian Grand Prix. Teammate Glock finished 5th but ended up placed 4th due to Lewis Hamilton being disqualified.


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