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Toyota launches car on net, engine supremo quits

TOYOTA'S Formula One engine supremo Luca Marmorini has left the company.

"Luca made a fantastic contribution to Toyota since the beginning of the Formula One project, including invaluable work on the RVX-09 engine and Kinetic Energy Recovery System projects, but he has chosen to leave the team," the team said yesterday. Japanese Kazuo Takeuchi would take the Italian's place.

The engine rules have changed for this season, meaning drivers are limited to eight engines per season. The units now also have to last for three races in a row while development has been frozen.

Under cost-saving measures, the engines have also been limited to 18,000 rpm compared to 19,000 last year.

Toyota presented its 2009 Formula One car on the Internet yesterday, opting for the low-key approach at a time when the sport is under pressure to cut costs.

New rules and regulations mean the TF109 looks very different to its predecessor, mostly due to changes to the car's aerodynamics. Just like Ferrari's F60, revealed earlier this week, the front wings are wider than before, while the rear wings are higher and narrower.

Toyota, which has not had an F1 victory in seven years despite having a massive budget, is cutting spending on the team. But the Japanese auto manufacturer is vowing to remain in the sport despite expectations that the company will record its first operating loss in seven decades. "The goal for me is clear: We want to win our first race," team president John Howett said.

Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, who both had podium finishes last season, return as drivers for Toyota, which finished fifth in the standings.

"I expect Toyota to be competitive again. Beyond that I cannot say. We will have to wait and see what the first few races hold," Trulli said. "I at least hope we can build on the progress we showed in 2008."

Toyota also announced that Panasonic will remain as the main sponsor for an extra three seasons, which takes the current deal through 2012.

The team's Website crashed at the launch time, but it was up and running an hour later.

Japanese automakers have been battered by the downturn in the US auto market, with Honda having quit F1 in December after Super Aguri abandoned last April. Subaru and Suzuki both recently quit the World Rally Championship.

"One thing is for sure, there will be bigger gaps between teams next season and bigger fluctuations in performance," Trulli said. "It was so close last year because we had a period of quite stable rules, but always when you make a big change, the grid is spread out more, so I expect that will be the case this year."


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