Toyota in shock split with technical director

Toyota has split with its technical director Andre de Cortanze just over a month after it launched its Formula 1 challenge for the 2002 season

Toyota in shock split with technical director

De Cortanze will leave the company with immediate effect after what Toyota Motorsport GmbH called a "mutual decision". The Japanese manufacturer, which has chosen to base its F1 attack in Cologne, Germany, is believed to have struggled with its early testing programme.

The Frenchman, who carved out his reputation with Peugeot's Group B rally and Le Mans projects, brought F1 expertise to the team after stints with Sauber and Ligier. He also designed Toyota's spectacular, if unsuccessful, GT-One Le Mans car.

Toyota has chosen to construct its own F1 chassis and engine for 2002 and embarked on its test programme at Paul Ricard in mid-March with Mika Salo and Allan McNish. The project hit an early setback, however, when Salo suffered a high-speed crash due to a component-related gearbox failure just days after the car was launched to the world's press.

The Directors of TMG have now formed a Technical Project Management Team to move on to the next stage of its F1 project. TMG President Ove Andersson will chair the project team, which consists of key departmental managers and engineers.

"These latest changes to our management give us a more solid foundation on which we can carry on building a successful new F1 race team," said Andersson. "We continue to develop our organisation, which has a strong technical structure and have no plans to announce a new technical director in the short term.

Andersson insists that the exit of de Cortanze will not have too much of an adverse affect on its progress.

"Our F1 project is on schedule and we are pleased with our progress so far. We thank Andre for his contribution over his four years with TMG and wish him well for the future," added the Swede.

Former Prost and Stewart GP technical director Alan Jenkins has been touted as likely replacement for de Cortanze in the long term.

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