Toyota runs into testing dispute

The new Toyota Formula 1 team is heading for a conflict with rival teams before it has even competed in a Grand Prix, due to a disagreement over the winter testing ban

Toyota runs into testing dispute

Toyota is joining the Formula 1 ranks in 2002 and is spending this year testing and developing its car, predominantly at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

An F1 testing ban begins immediately after the last race of the season in Japan on October 14 and lasts until the beginning of December but, according to this week's Autocar, Toyota boss Ove Andersson has declared that his team will continue running right through the winter. He says Toyota had made an agreement with motorsport's governing body, the FIA to enter the World Championship before the testing ban was introduced.

The dispute comes just a week after Andersson said his team was not being made to feel welcome in F1. The Cologne-based outfit also believes that it does not need to adhere to F1's testing rules until the beginning of 2002 - the year it is actually entering the sport.

Rival teams are challenging this on the grounds that entries for next year's World Championship have to be registered no later than November 15. As a result, they say, Toyota must abide by the same rules.

McLaren's managing director Martin Whitmarsh said: "Once Toyota's entry for next year's world championship is accepted it is in the same contractual situation and is obliged to abide by the same rules and obligations as everybody else."

To appease the other teams, Toyota could delay its entry until November 15 and so keep testing for a couple of weeks more than the opposition, rather then the entire test ban period.

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