Exclusive: Vasselon to Join Toyota

Fresh for scoring their maiden podium finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix, Toyota are set to pull-off a major technical coup early next month after securing the services of highly-rated engineer Pascal Vasselon from Michelin, Autosport-Atlas can reveal

Exclusive: Vasselon to Join Toyota

Toyota delivered one of the biggest surprises of the season so far with Jarno Trulli's brilliant run to second place in the Malaysian Grand Prix and, with technical director Mike Gascoyne keen to make further improvements during the rest of the season, sources have revealed that terms have been agreed for Vasselon to join the outfit.

Although Vasselon's exact job title at Toyota is not known yet, it is understood that he will take a chief role within the R&D department to help improve the now competitive TF105 chassis - especially in the way it interacts with the tyres.

Vasselon has spent his most recent career with Michelin, carving himself a highly-respected reputation with the French tyre manufacturer's F1 teams, but he also has extensive knowledge of suspension developments and vehicle dynamics - something that Toyota will be keen to tap.

The Frenchman's decision to join Toyota came after Michelin's controversial decision to move him away from motorsport activities at the end of last year. In a management reshuffle, Michelin handed responsibility for the F1 activities to engineers Patrick Cohen and Nick Shorrock.

Vasselon himself had been due to be moved across to working on off-road tyres in the United States.

Michelin's decision on Vasselon stirred up some concern from several of the company's leading teams, however, with sources suggesting that McLaren, Williams and Toyota all canvassed for Vasselon to be re-instated to his previous role.

When that possibility was ruled out, it is believed that several teams made personal appeals to try and lure Vasselon to join them on an exclusive basis - with Toyota appearing to have won the fight.

Michelin's motorsport boss Pierre Dupasquier admitted at this year's Australian Grand Prix that there was a chance Vasselon could return to F1 rather than accept his job offer in the United States.

"We don't know yet what Pascal will do," he said. "He has been assigned a job in the United States and he is preparing for that. I know he loves Formula One and the sport as well. It is up to him. I have no idea what will happen."

With the fight at the front of the field looking incredibly close this year between several Michelin runners, any extra knowledge and input that Vasselon can apply to Toyota to help the interaction between car and tyres will be very valuable.

It is understood that Vasselon will join the team on April 4, with his first race being the San Marino Grand Prix, although an official announcement has not been made yet.

shares
comments
Dennis Defiant over Third Car

Previous article

Dennis Defiant over Third Car

Next article

Ecclestone Questions Ferrari

Ecclestone Questions Ferrari
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash Plus

Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas' collision at Imola on Sunday prompted fury in the Formula 1 paddock. But Russell's carefully-worded heartfelt statement later, acknowledging that his initial response was wrong, proved the right move

Formula 1
Apr 22, 2021
How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight Plus

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight

In Max Verstappen's Formula 1 career to date, he has been cast as the 'pretender', an acknowledged top-line performer without the car to regularly challenge Lewis Hamilton. But that no longer applies in 2021, and the start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the most telling signal yet of what we can expect from their duel this year

Formula 1
Apr 21, 2021
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Plus

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari Plus

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari

Ninety years ago, Rudolf Caracciola became the first non-Italian to win the epic Mille Miglia. We look at how he stacks up to the most famous pre-war ace Tazio Nuvolari, one of the drivers he beat on that day in 1931

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021