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Brunner Leaves Minardi to Join Toyota

Minardi technical director Gustav Brunner has joined Toyota as chief designer of the Japanese manufacturer's fledgling Formula One team. Toyota, who are preparing to make their debut next season as the 12th team on the grid, said on Monday that the 50-year-old Austrian had agreed to head their design department.

"I feel a little pain leaving my existing team but this is an opportunity not to be missed," Brunner said in a statement issued by Toyota.

"To join Toyota from almost the start of their project is fantastic. From what I have seen so far, TMG (Toyota Motorsport) has a good team of people and all the facilities to really push forward the positive development."

Brunner has worked in Formula One for two decades and his departure will be a big blow for struggling Minardi, who have not scored a point since 1999. The widely-respected technical director has been much praised for innovative designs which have helped the team hit above their weight in Formula One despite using outmoded engines.

Toyota Motorsport president described Brunner as a "guy who can contribute significantly to our project" after having covered almost every technical aspect in the sport. Brunner started his Formula One career at ATS in 1978, moving to Arrows, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and RAM-Hart. He joined Leyton House in 1990, then March and rejoined Ferrari in 1993. He had been at Minardi since 1998.

Germany-based Toyota are currently without a technical director after Frenchman Andre de Cortanze left by mutual agreement last week. The team said then they had no plans to replace him in the short term.

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