Grapevine: Toyota Set for Management Reshuffle

Toyota chief executives have returned from a top-level management meeting held in Tokyo this week safe in the knowledge that the Formula One team's recent stunning form has ended the immediate possibility of the plug being pulled on the outfit, although Autosport-Atlas understands that management changes may yet still be made later this season

Grapevine: Toyota Set for Management Reshuffle

Prior to Jarno Trulli's blistering run to second place in Malaysia, the Japanese manufacturer's key F1 figures had been ordered to fly to Tokyo immediately after the race to explain the current state of the team on the back of what had been, up until then, a disappointing time in F1.

But with Trulli's result, the meeting could not have come at a better time for the men present; team boss Tsutomu Tomita, team president John Howett, team vice-president Yoshiaki Kinoshita, technical director Mike Gascoyne and engine chief Luca Marmorini.

But although the shock result at Sepang appears to have considerably eased pressure on the team and left Toyota's car company chiefs satisfied that its continued high spending is justified, sources have told Autosport-Atlas that a major management reshuffle could still take place later this year.

According to insiders, Tomita and Howett could be moved aside towards the end of the season as the result of Kinoshita bidding to increase his influence over the team. It is believed that he has got frustrated at several decisions made by the team in recent months and sources claim he wants to give Gascoyne more of a say in the way matters are handled internally and in co-operation with the company's bosses in Tokyo.

In particular, claims one source, there is believed to have been a certain level of frustration at the way the team had the chance to lure a leading designer from a rival team to help bolster the technical staff even more - only to see the opportunity fall through their hands when they stalled on giving the final green light to a contract and allowed the designer's rival team enough time to put in an acceptable counter-offer.

It has been widely accepted that Toyota's management structure is too complex and, with approval needed from Japan, they often cannot react as quick as other F1 teams to capitalise on opportunities.

Gascoyne himself has made no secret of the fact that the pressure is now off the team in terms of trying to justify its results in F1 - but he believes the pressure has increased on it to bring home that maiden victory.

"There were certainly some people in the company who were beginning to question the money that was being spent to finish in eighth position in the championship," he told the British Sun newspaper on Friday. "The pressure was mounting to do well and there's no doubt our backs were against the wall.

"We were told we had to start getting the results to justify the cost and there was even a meeting called after Malaysia which was to bang the table. The mood of the meeting changed considerably thanks to the result."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
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