News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Exit Gascoyne broke the story last night that Mike Gascoyne may be leaving Toyota and indeed it has been confirmed today that the Englishman is leaving the Cologne based team. The reasons for his departure haven't been confirmed and neither party is making any comment at this time. Whatever the reason, I hope this has nothing to do with the legal case pending former Toyota boss Ove Andersson, designer Gustav Brunner and others who stand accused by the authorities for stealing software and intellectual property belonging to Ferrari. Certainly this silence raises such suspicions.

Yet again, Mike is leaving without having completed his work and winning a world championship. The closest he's been was still in 1999 with Jordan when Heinz Harald Frentzen came in third in the championship after a very good season winning a couple of grand prix. He was also involved with turning around Renault resulting in Alonso's first victory in 2003. Although a senior Renault person I spoke to said downplayed his contributions to Renault's fortunes last year.

Well, all I can say is good luck to Toyota after this for I think they are going to have an even tougher time unless they can find someone of Gascoyne's caliber to replace him. In fact I think its downright stupid at this point. Perhaps Toyota simply wanted a high profile scapegoat to take the blame for essentially going backwards this season. They needed to target for wins this year and at this point that looks a tough proposition.

But as this article on Motorsports Ramblings highlights, Toyota's troubles also stem from trying to run a racing team as if it was simply another corporate division and also an exercise in marketing and branding (which they really do not need). Racing teams are meant to be organized like a crack SAS regiment rather than a regular army division. But thats what you get when "suits" are in charge.

Then again, perhaps Mike Gascoyne's temprement, that earned him the nickname "bulldog" rubbed a few people the wrong way. Unless of course this is a legal matter, Toyota's decision is questionable and comes at a highly critical time for the team when their season is just on its way to being turned around.

With Mike's departure, I think this also signals Jarno Trulli's exit from Cologne. Jarno was Mike's choice and Toyota hired him. I doubt if Toyota will be renewing that contract.

Perhaps now that he's available, McLaren would do well to hire Mike Gascoyne to replace the departed Newey. Then again, McLaren are increasingly becoming more corporate and more process oriented and that may not be what he wants.

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