December 29th, 2002

Milk Carton

"Salo was too negative"

The Panasonic Toyota team shocked the F1 world earlier this year when they opted to replace both drivers, veteran Mika Salo and rookie Allan McNish, from their 2003 driver line-up. Former British American Racing driver Olivier Panis was signed on soon afterward and was later joined by 2002 CART champion, Cristiano da Matta.

Although some expected McNish to be shown the door, Salo's dismissal came as a shock as the Finn still had a year to run on his contract, however the team explained that changes needed to be made to help the young team move ahead.

Ove Andersson, boss of the Toyota outfit, has since explained the move in greater detail, stating that McNish struggled too much in qualifying and Salo was often too negative with his comments.

"First look at Allan. He's very good at PR and he works very well with the team," he explained in F1 Racing. "But I only gave him a go on the understanding that, if it didn't work out, he'd be prepared to step out of the car after the first three races. He did a good enough job to warrant a whole season, but I think it's fair to say that he struggled too much in qualifying. As for Mika, he did a very good job for us on the track, but there's a clear feeling in the team that we needed a change of direction. Sometimes Mika could be very negative which wasn't useful. Olivier, on the other hand, is a very positive person and that was the key factor in hiring him."
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