The countdown to the F1 season will begin in earnest at Paul Ricard on Wednesday when Toyota launches its 2003 car.

The countdown to the F1 season will begin in earnest at Paul Ricard on Wednesday when Toyota launches its 2003 car. It will be the first official launch by a F1 team in 2003 and follows a day after the Hinwil-based Sauber started testing its new contender, the Ferrari-powered C22, for the first time.

Sauber team boss Peter Sauber was pleased with every aspect of the C22, which will be launched officially next month.

“Perfect, fascinating, a picker-upper,” Sauber told . “No hitch, the gears could be shifted easily, the temperatures were correct, and the clutch worked perfectly. There has been no cloning; for the first time, everything on the new car (the C22) is new”.

Toyota’s TF103 will be unveiled at the Germany-based team's home track, Paul Ricard (a circuit now owned by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. It was the venue for the French Grand Prix until being succeeded by Magny-Cours in 1991).

BAR will follow suit in Barcelona next week. Renault and Williams will launch their latest cars this month and, as CARtoday.com reported recently, Jaguar Racing will host a virtual unveiling via the internet.

Ferrari are expected to introduce the F-2003 next month even though they will probably start the season with last year's F-2002.

McLaren, Minardi and Jordan have not announced launch dates yet.

But all eyes will be on Toyota today and their new driver pairing of veteran Frenchman Olivier Panis and rookie Cristiano da Matta as they continue preparations for what will be the Japanese car giant's second season in F1.

Original article from Car