The Panasonic Toyota Racing on-track team paid tribute to Team Manager Richard Cregan at Interlagos today, on the occasion of his final Grand Prix wearing the Toyota uniform.
The Irishman, 47, will leave Toyota at the end of this month to become Team Manager of Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, spearheading preparations for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009.
All race team members joined together to pay tribute to Richard in the Interlagos pit lane as Chairman and Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina presented him with a personalised Panasonic Toyota Racing race overall, produced by Alpinestars, before a group photo.
Richard said: "This has been a weekend of very mixed emotions because on the one hand I am excited by the future but on the other I am sad to be leaving my friends at Toyota.
"I have had a fantastic time with this team; we have had highs and lows but we have stuck together throughout and I am very proud of what has been achieved. Even though I will not be with Toyota after November, I will always be a team member in my heart.
"I was in Melbourne for Toyota's first Grand Prix, which was a very special event for us and to score a point, after so much hard work just to get there, was fantastic. The 2005 season was my most memorable because we were very successful but this year it was a good feeling to be back on the podium; that is where this team belongs.
"This is a great team of people and I believe there is no better in the pit lane. I know the results will come and I could wish for nothing better than a Toyota victory in the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. That would be a dream come true."
Richard has played a pivotal role in Toyota's motorsport history, having joined the company in 1984 as a mechanic on the World Rally Championship team.
His first event, the 1984 Safari Rally, was also his first victory with Toyota and he went on to become test team foreman, workshop manager and operations manager. In that time Toyota won four drivers' and three manufacturers' championships.
He was also operations manager for the Le Mans 24 Hours project in 1998 and 1999, which culminated in second place in the latter event, before assisting Ove Andersson in setting up Toyota's Formula 1 programme after it was announced in 1999.
As General Manager General Affairs and then Team Manager, Richard has competed with the team at 120 Grands Prix and in his seven seasons of Formula 1 competition, Panasonic Toyota Racing has scored 215 points, finishing on the podium eight times.
Chairman and Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina said: "We are very sad that Richard is leaving the team but we understand his reasons and we wish him the very best of luck in Abu Dhabi; I am sure he will make the first Grand Prix there a truly memorable event.
"He can be very proud of his numerous achievements at Toyota, which include providing a positive working environment at the factory and at the track as well as implementing the Toyota Way in Formula 1, where we have achieved significant progress in areas such as pit stops and car operations.
"I look forward to seeing Richard again in Abu Dhabi when I hope we can try out the new podium facilities!"
For copyright-free images of the group photo and Richard Cregan's gift, please visit the Image Library at www.toyota-f1-world.com, where the images will be in the Brazilian Grand Prix section.