DailyF1News.com can now confirm that Mike Gascoyne was suspended from Toyota F1 Racing yesterday with immediate effect. This move is especially surprising considering Gustav Brunner’s quiet but sudden departure from the team during December last year.
A Toyota spokesperson’s only statement on the matter so far reads as follows:
“Due to a fundamental difference of opinion with regard to the technical operations of its Formula 1 team, Toyota Motorsport has suspended its Technical Director Chassis, Mike Gascoyne, until further notice.
Toyota Motorsport will not make any additional comments on this matter at this time.”
It would appear that a high-level management reshuffle is in progress and this was, at least in part, responsible for the sudden move.
One can only assume that Gascoyne, one of the most highly paid designers in the sport, will be snapped up by another team should the suspension become a permanent split. While he has never been involved in a championship-winning car, he did oversee the design of the formidable 1999 Jordan car which, despite a very outdated powerplant, threatened to take Heinz-Harald Frentzen to a drivers’ world championship up to some three races from the end of the season. He also oversaw the design of Toyota’s most successful car to date – their 2005 contender which was only narrowly beaten to third in the constructor’s championship by Ferrari.
Toyota’s rather shaky start to the 2006 season (despite an enormous budget and early launch) could not have helped Gascoyne though, nor could the fact that Jarno Trulli, who proved to be their fastest driver last year, is struggling to get to grips with his new steed.
Edu de Jager