In the first news round-up of 2008 we take a brief look at some of the stories that hit the headlines over the Christmas and new year period. Toyota have dominated much of the media with sponsors moving around, Williams also made news today by opting out of a big launch and Ralf Schumacher remains in the sports shadows, speaking for the first time about his ‘time out’ decision.
Kingfisher Out, Wurth In
Toyota have had a shift around of one of their primary sponsors, with Indian based Kingfisher airlines exiting their contract prematurely. The decision was expected as owner Vijay Mallya recently purchased the Spyker team, renaming and re-branding the squad into Force India. Mallya maintains he has a good relationship with the Japanese team and the two parties separated with understanding.
I would like to thank Kingfisher Airlines for its support during 2007 and I wish Dr Mallya good luck with his new Formula One venture. Tadashi Yamashina.
In replace of Kingfisher comes Wurth, announced as the teams new sponsor and supplier reasonably soon after Mallya officially pulled out. Wurth, a global fixings and assembly specialist company, will supply Toyota with tools and fasteners during the 2008 season. Their logo will also appear in the pit garage and on official team communication. (That’s headed notepaper to you and I!)
As a company we are proud to add Wurth to our roster of valued partners and we are working as hard as possible to make 2008 a memorable year for everyone connected with Panasonic Toyota Racing. John Howett.
Twenty-Ten Or Bust
Staying with Toyota and team principal Tadashi Yamashina, it has become public knowledge that the higher powers within the company have given the team until 2010 to get results. While no consequences were given should the results fail to materialise, it is thought that Toyota will pull the team out of the sport. It is clear that manufacturers compete in order to gain an edge over their rivals in the motor industry, improving sales and gaining reputation in the process. But this news suggests that Toyota’s involvement in Formula One is not affecting car sales, and thus board members are wondering why they are spending a lot of money on competing.
To become stronger it is more important to improve the level of organization in general rather than to rely on the power of one person. And my job is to mobilize the resources to achieve that. I have been given two more years. So, we will work and fight to make sure we prove ourselves in the 2008 season.
We studied our performances in 2007 and we believe we have found areas where we have to improve. We expect more from the aerodynamic side and also from an operational side but I am optimistic that the team knows what needs to be done to improve our performance. Tadashi Yamashina.
I for one do not understand why Toyota are still competing. They seem to lack passion, ability and panache for the sport, and I honestly feel that Formula One could do with less of these entrants and more of the Minardis and Williams. At least they do okay with their budgets, seek out talent and promote the sport well.
Williams Keep It Low Key
A disturbing change in Formula One recently has been teams opting for a low key launch of their new cars. Last year Ferrari invited a few journalists to their factory at Maranello. They dished a few pre-prepared photos and got various technical people to talk about the car. It was uninspiring to say the least. And following the extravagant launch of he MP4-22 in 2007, McLaren threatened a low key lunch for the 2008 MP4-23 before changing minds and reverting to typical Formula One tradition.
But today Williams have said that they will be conservative with the presentation of their FW30. The British squad will not hold a proper launch of their new challenger, having already confirmed sponsorship and driver line up.
There are still things to work on and make better as well as performance. But, having that good strong base of reliability helps you enormously to develop your performance because everyone is focused on making the car go faster.
I would say as far as our goals for 2007 are concerned, we achieved them. And our goal is to make the next step up for 2008. Sam Michael.
Ralfie Snubs Some More
When Ralf Schumacher tested for Force India in late 2007, many thought the exercise was thanks to Toyota sponsor (at the time) Vijay Mallya, but shortly after the rather poor showing, Schumacher took the initiative and dismissed Force India as a potential ride for the upcoming season.
Since then, and following Ralf’s dismissive comments about a drive for ’08, Schumacher Jr has been dissing other motor sports left right and centre. On speaking about a possible comeback, Ralfie had the following to say:
Theoretically that may be possible, but practically you have to wait and see what happens. Formula one waits for nothing and no one. Until now it has been my life, and motor sport is certainly a big part of my future. In which form, remains to be seen. No matter what car, an oval will never see me, and I will never go to Le Mans, or Dakar. Ralf Schumacher.
I think it is reasonably safe to say that it will be at least twenty years before we see another of the Schumacher clan in Formula One.