Kobayashi Learns Australian GP Layout through Toyota Simulator

Although not exactly a rookie in the world of Formula One – he did get to race for defunct team Toyota in the last two rounds of the 2009 season – Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi will race an F1 car at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit for the first time in career. According to a BMW Sauber media preview of the Aussie GP, Kobayashi's learning of the track happened via a “Toyota simulator”.

As all of you already know by now, the Japanese manufacturer decided to leave the series at the end of 2009, after which it agreed to supply all their F1 technology, car, staff and Cologne base to the Serbian team Stefan GP, in order for them to secure an entry into the 2010 series. With the FIA not granting Zoran Stefanovic's team an entry into the 2010 championship, Toyota issued a statement in which it said the Cologne base will be entering a new era from now on.

Although we're not exactly sure what that means – whether they'll continue to support the Stefan GP team or not – it is believed Toyota will offer CFD capabilities, two wind tunnels, manufacturing machines, test rigs and F1 simulators to all interested “external clients”.

Their first client seems to have been the very Kobayashi, who used to be part of the team until last season. Since he has never experienced driving a single-seater around the Albert Park circuit, he did an orientation session on Toyota's simulator, which currently benefits from “14 laser-mapped circuits.”

The news means that Toyota are practically making themselves available for selling their former F1 operations in the future, in case a team is interested in bringing their technology (which is now up for grabs) back into the series. The FIA recently issued a statement in which it asks the teams that want to be part of the F1 championship in the 2011 season to show their interest publicly.

Considering that Toyota is not involved in any European racing series at the moment, the only move that would make some sense (financially speaking) would be to sell the Cologne base – along with all the other F1 assets there – to a team that wants to compete in F1 in 2011. That's probably Toyota's plan anyway, since the company has retained around 200 employees at the German factory in order to keep it functional until a potential buyer would show interest in purchasing it.
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