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Panasonic Toyota F1 Racing Says Goodbye - VIDEO FEATURE

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Team drivers included Jarno Trulli, Ralf Schumacher, and Timo Glock

COLOGNE - January 26, 2010: After eight years competing in Formula One Racing the Panasonic-Toyota Team decided to pull the plug on the program. Over those years The Auto Channel had fun following their campaigns and broadcasting their entertaining and insightful videos. The video below is their swan-song goodbye.

To read more about the Panasonic-Toyota Team CLICK HERE and then follow the links.

Panasonic Toyota Racing in Formula 1

Panasonic Toyota Racing came a long way since January 1999, when Hiroshi Okuda, then president of Toyota Motor Corporation, announced the bold decision to enter the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

In keeping with Toyota’s challenging spirit, which has seen the company expand across the globe and promote the use of hybrid technology, the Formula 1 team was to be started from scratch.

Unlike other manufacturers, which bought existing teams or entered as engine suppliers, Toyota took on the challenge of designing and building its entire Formula 1 car under one roof.

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Ralf Schumacher

Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, Germany was chosen as the base and the challenge was on to upgrade the facilities from World Rally Championship and Le Mans standards to those required for Formula 1.

In 2001 Mika Salo joined the fledgling team to develop Toyota’s first Formula 1 prototype, the TF101, alongside Allan McNish in preparation for a race debut the following year. The 2002 Australian Grand Prix was a milestone in the history of the company as Mika earned sixth place and an impressive point in Toyota’s very first Grand Prix start, with the TF102.

Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta joined the team in 2003, and at Silverstone that year Panasonic Toyota Racing led a Grand Prix for the first time, with the Brazilian earning the honour in the British Grand Prix.

The young team soon proved its potential and both Olivier and Cristiano qualified as high as third during the course of the campaign.

The 2004 season saw Panasonic Toyota Racing continue to learn from experience and lay the foundations for future success. Jarno Trulli came into the team for the last two races and was joined by Ralf Schumacher from the start of 2005.

With two experienced, Grand Prix-winning drivers on board the team continued to make good progress. Jarno scored the team’s first podium when he finished second in the second race of 2005 in Malaysia, repeating that result next time out in Bahrain. He was also third in Spain, while Ralf added another third in Hungary and took a popular pole position on home ground in Japan. Panasonic Toyota Racing finished the season in an encouraging fourth place in the constructors’ rankings.

The team hoped to build on that performance in 2006 but, despite Ralf’s hard-earned third place in Australia, it proved to be a challenging season. A B-spec car was a step forward in terms of performance and helped the team end the season stronger than at the start, finishing with 35 points.

Hopes were high that 2007 would see an improvement but despite familiar qualifying pace from Jarno, who qualified in the top 10 on 14 occasions, points proved hard to come by for both drivers. Jarno drove a superb race at Indianapolis to claim sixth place while Ralf’s best result was also sixth, after a vintage drive in Hungary. The team finished with 13 points and a determination to improve significantly in 2008.

That was achieved in some style, with the new driver pairing of Jarno and Timo Glock inspiring the team to 56 total championship points. A more stable car was the cornerstone of an impressive season which saw the twin targets of a podium return and a significant points improvement both comfortably achieved.

Jarno scored an emotional third place at Magny-Cours while Timo’s steady improvement over the first half of the season reached a climax when he took second in Hungary. Those results helped the team target fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, but a late flurry by Renault restricted Toyota to a still-promising fifth.

Jarno and Timo were both back behind the wheel in 2009. Designed to meet the new racing regulations, the TF109 demonstrated good power and performance in pre-season testing. At Australia in the first race of the year, Jarno finished third place on the podium, while Timo captured the same result in Malaysia. The 4th race of the year was the Bahrain GP, in which Panasonic Toyota Racing captured its first-ever 1-2 start from the grid. Tire selection during the race resulted in Jarno finishing a close third place.

At the back-to-back Singapore and Japanese races during the final stage of the season, Timo and Jarno scored second place finishes, respectively. After Timo was injured in qualifying at the Japanese GP, third driver Kamui Kobayashi stepped in to take over driving duties for the final two races of the year in Brazilian and Abu Dhabi. On the season, Panasonic Toyota Racing scored 59.5 points, taking fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

After the conclusion of the 2009 season, Toyota announced its decision to pull out of F1, closing the curtain on eight seasons of Toyota in F1 racing.