Toyota names Panasonic as title sponsor

The fledgling Toyota Formula 1 outfit has, as expected, announced that electronics company Panasonic will be its title sponsor when the Japanese manufacturer enters Grand Prix racing next year

Toyota names Panasonic as title sponsor

The Cologne-based team is gearing up for an assault on next year's Formula 1 World Championship and the Panasonic deal is set to run for five years from 2002. The company's title sponsor status means it has bagged the plum spots of the car's rear wing and side pods.

Toyota has a long history of backing from Panasonic, which is owned by electronic giant Matsushita, including its Le Mans sportscar programmes and also Toyota-powered teams in the US-based Champ Car series.

As well as financial backing, Panasonic will help Toyota in the development of electronic systems for its F1 effort using knowledge accrued from joint efforts between the companies, as well as developing automotive batteries and audio-visual equipment.

Formula 1's newest team has already built its first car and has set itself a rigorous one-year Paul Ricard-based test programme. Drivers Allan McNish and Mika Salo have completed thousands of miles, but the car has so far struggled to reach the pace of rival teams.

At Monza, in the middle of June, Salo failed to get within three seconds of a benchmark time set by the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya. Both Salo and McNish will take to the track again on July 10 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

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