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JANUARY 13, 2002

Salo - money can't buy time

TOYOTA's lead driver Mika Salo has continued to tow the party line in a BBC interview that despite huge investment and a year's intensive testing the Japanese team shouldn't be expected to be at or even near race-winning pace in its first season.

After lapping 4-5 seconds off the pace in Barcelona this week, Salo again emphasized that the team, which has enjoyed considerable success in the World Rally Championship in recent years, lacks F1 experience despite the signing of men such as himself and technical director Gustav Brunner to lead the way.

"For sure we are a lot behind at the moment and we are just trying to catch up," he said. ÔBut everyone else is going forwards as well and we have to do double-sized steps to catch up."

The 35-year-old Finn, who is in the process of moving from Chelsea to Switzerland, was however refreshingly candid about the value of early season testing, the return of which this week after almost three months of inertia has been grabbing headlines for the fastest men of each day. "It is an absolute waste of time," he said. "If someone could build an indoor track somewhere where it's nice and 30 degrees inside it would be perfect."