Gascoyne - Toyota's secret weapon 05 Apr 2005
The British engineer so crucial to Japanese success
With another brilliant drive to second place for Jarno Trulli in Bahrain and a well-deserved fourth place for Ralf Schumacher, Toyota recorded their best result ever at the weekend. In both the team's base of Cologne in Germany and back home in Japan, hopes for the rest of the season are understandably at an all-time high.
Within the team few doubt that one of the most vital components for the recent successes at both Sepang and Sakhir (the team now lie a clear second in the standings on 26 points - only one less than they scored in their first three seasons put together) is the man who rejoices in the job title Technical Director, Chassis, - Englishman Mike Gascoyne.
Gascoyne has long been marked down as one to watch - from his time at Cambridge University onwards - and in Formula One racing he has proved himself to be one of the most talented engineers and technical team leaders of his generation. Since arriving at Toyota in 2003 on what is rumoured to be a multi-million dollar salary that would put many drivers to shame, Gascoyne has taken control of the team's technical direction and turned the Japanese company's vast resources into on-track results.
Gascoyne's career has, like many in Formula One racing, taken in many twists and turns. He joined McLaren in 1989 as an aerodynamicist before moving on to Sauber and then Tyrrell. When the latter folded in 1998 he went to Jordan as Chief Designer, helping to produce the most successful car in the company's history - the 199 - which took the team to two victories and a third-placed finish in the 1999 constructors' championship.
In 2001, Gascoyne switched to Renault (the then recently re-christened Benetton team), and the magic came with him. As Technical Director, Gascoyne created the team's winning package of extremely aerodynamically efficient cars, outstanding tyre wear rates and responsive handling, with Fernando Alonso giving the team its first victory in Hungary in 2003.
Toyota liked what they saw and Gascoyne was quickly persuaded to join them in late 2003 as Technical Director with responsibility for chassis development. At the time the team was still struggling to deliver on their early promise, having suffered from several near-disastrous seasons as the results failed to arrive.
Gascoyne's influence was only fleetingly visible throughout 2004, which proved to be another disappointment for the team. But he has been central to the creation of this season's TF105, which has already proved itself as Toyota's most successful car so far. If the good results continue to roll in then Gascoyne's already considerable status as a race winner - and his market value - are likely to increase still further.