February 19 2006
After many years of racing, Toyota set a new goal for itself in the year 2000. The decision was made to put all of the Toyota resources behind fielding successful teams in the CART and F1 series. The Toyota GT-One entered into the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans was a racing car developed to be a bridge to F1. Eight months later, Toyota began testing F1 components developed for the GT-One. At the same time, Toyota continued to support and participate in worldwide motorsport, providing engines for CART and F3 cars, fielding a Japanese GT series team, and entering many other minor races.
Acceleration of F1 Project Research and Development
First bench tests of a V10 engine. The first prototype test chassis is assembled.
A TMC-built Toyota Corolla WRC driven by a team of Henrik Lundgaard and Jens Christian Anker entered the WRC Europe Rally Championship, capturing a total of five titles.
A Toyota engine scored a first victory (driver: J.Montoya, team: Target/Chip Ganassi) and went on to five wins for the season in the CART Series.
Introduction of the Toyota F1 Machine
The TMG battle corps increases to more than 550 professionals from more than 30 countries around the world. The Toyota F1 prototype is revealed to the public for the first time at the Paul Ricard test circuit in the south of France. Full-scale testing implemented at different grand prix circuits around the world. Panasonic becomes a title sponsor of the Toyota F1 team, and the team makes strides forward as "Panasonic Toyota Racing"
A Toyota engine claims victory in the first CART race of the season, and Toyota engines go on to win five more. Toranosuke Takagi (F1 driver from 1998 to 1999; Formula Nippon Champion in 2000) drives in the CART series for Walker Racing (a Toyota team), taking fourth at in the 18th race of the season, the highest-ever finish for a Japanese pilot.
F1 Debut Toyota celebrates is debut on the F1 circuit with memorable launch as Mika Salo races to a sixth place finish. Unfortunately, Toyota only manages 10th in the season constructors title with two points, having encountered serious reliability issues with the F1 machines.
New Driver Lineup
New drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta are brought on board. With the number of teams now at 10, points are awarded for the top eight places. Other new regulations implemented by the sport's authorities. Toyota takes eighth place in the constructor's championship with 16 points for the season. Toyota finishes both cars in the points for the first time at the German Grand Prix (Panis: Fifth; da Matta: Sixth).
Eight in the Constructor's Championship
Toyota only wins nine points for the season, finishing once again in eighth place in the constructor's championship. The TF104B was introduced mid-way through the season, as the team continues aggressive development work. Near the end of the season Zonta and Trulli (transferred from another team) replace da Matta and Panis as drivers. Ralf Schumacher contracted to join the team for the 2005 season.
Toyota score 4th in the championship behind Ferrari, their best finish to date. Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli string together a bundle of podium finishes of second and third places. After a spell of bad luck Ralf overtakes Jarno in the Drivers' Championship to earn the right to the #7 car in 2006. The elusive first win is the goal for next season and the team are aiming for nothing less.