Toyota may quit F1, Mercedes committed

UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Toyota's team boss has indicated the Japanese manufacturer might decide to pull out of formula one.

Amid rumors about the Toyota Motor Corporation's wavering commitment to the sport because of its serious financial losses, Tadashi Yamashina said the cost of competing in F1 is an issue.

"We need to turn it into an F1 where you don't need so much money," he said at a news conference in Tokyo, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

Toyota's team president John Howett has been at the forefront of the FOTA group's efforts to cut costs, but the Briton was also one of the leading protagonists of the argument against Max Mosley's budget cap.

Yamashina added: "We'll have to consider various issues while bearing in mind our ties with the main (Toyota) company."

Cologne based Toyota has signed the new Concorde Agreement, which binds teams to F1 until the end of 2012, but the team's 2010 budget has not yet been approved by the carmaker's executive committee.

It is said that this can be done at a November 15 meeting at the earliest.

It emerged this week that the team is therefore not in a position to sign up any drivers for next year.

The news about Timo Glock's expiring contract option for 2010 was interpreted by some as the driver having been "fired", but he said in the German press: "I can look around at other teams, because Toyota has to clarify certain things."

Tadashi Yamashina was earlier quoted by the Yomiuri newspaper as indicating that money, relating to the success of the parent company and also cost-cutting efforts within formula one, are issues to consider.

"We will participate for now," he added. "We have to consider a variety of things in relation to our core business.

"Our participation is unclear, depending on our financial results," said Yamashina.

09/09/09 (GMM) Jarno Trulli has played down speculation that Toyota is set to pull out of formula one. With Honda and BMW already calling time on their respective grand prix forays, the signs are rife that Toyota is to be the next car manufacturer to walk away.

It has emerged that the Cologne based team's Japanese parent Toyota Motor Corporation is delaying approval of the 2010 F1 budget until November.

That news is believed to be linked with Williams' decision to look around for another engine supplier, as well as drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock featuring in the 2010 driver market.

But amid the rumors about Toyota's future, reports late last week suggested the more likely outcome for the team is a drastically reduced budget for 2010.

Trulli told the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport: "Toyota has asserted that there is no reason to depart from formula one."

The Italian driver also said he was happy to hear about his countryman Giancarlo Fisichella's move to Ferrari, despite Fisichella revealing that only Rubens Barrichello has phoned to personally congratulate him.

Trulli said of the Fisichella news: "For him it is a grandissima (great) satisfaction and a great opportunity."

But Trulli said he is happy where he is. "I feel very well at Toyota, where I have done and I am doing the best job possible," the 35-year-old insisted.

08/23/09 (GMM) Flavio Briatore has denied that Renault might be among the next wave of manufacturers to pull out of formula one.

It emerged at Valencia on Sunday that Toyota's budget for the 2010 season has not yet been approved by the board of the Japanese manufacturer.

It is suggested the Toyota Motor Corporation is awaiting the results of its half financial year report before giving the green light for another season on the grid.

BMW and Honda also decided to quit the sport despite efforts to reduce costs, and it is regularly rumored that Renault is also re-thinking its commitment to F1, despite like Toyota recently signing the 2012 Concorde Agreement.

"I don't understand why this question is always put to Renault," Renault team boss Briatore said.

"In the last five years, Renault is still racing and a lot of people are not any more. There's no problem at all," he added.

In fact, Briatore said Renault is already contemplating the future beyond the end of the new tripartite agreement with the FIA and F1's commercial rights holders.

"Renault wants to stay in formula one for a long time and the Concorde Agreement is only signed until 2012, and then we will be looking for '13, '14, '15, '16," said the Italian.

08/12/09 The Toyota Motor Company is losing a lot of money at the moment as a result of the economic downturn. The company has a new boss in Akio Toyoda. He is instituting a relentless cost-cutting plan to try to get the company back into profit.

In 2007 Toyota's then new F1 team principal Tadashi Yamashina said that he had been given two years to deliver results for Toyota in F1, following years of underperformance despite having one of the biggest budgets in F1. In January the team admitted that because of the world financial crisis its F1 program was under scrutiny but the then boss Katsuaki Watanabe decided to continue.

Toyota has since been at the forefront of the cost-cutting plans in F1 which has made the F1 involvement more cost-effective but performance is still important and the pressure remains on the team to win races. A few months ago the team's John Howett said that "if we have a weak season we have no future" and that "we feel we must win to secure a very bright future in F1". That has not happened. Jarno Trulli is currently sixth in the Drivers' Championship but his early season third and fourth places have faded and in recent events he has struggled to score. Timo Glock is 10th in the championship and he has suffered the same decline in performance. Toyota remains fourth in the Constructors at the moment behind Brawn, Red Bull and Ferrari but McLaren and Williams are on an upward trend and could catch Toyota. This would make life more difficult for Panasonic Toyota Racing because being beaten by customer Williams would not be a good reflection on the activities in Cologne, particularly as Williams is small and relatively under-funded compared to the main effort.

The good news for Toyota is that Toyoda is a motorsport fan, who has even raced himself on occasion. He is planning to help Toyota by creating exciting new cars, including an affordable sports car. Thus maintaining a sporting image for Toyota is important and the F1 program will get a new lease of life.

Details of the new project are few and far between but it seems that it will be a joint venture with Subaru. The rumors suggest that it will be a rear-wheel-drive car fitted with a Subaru boxer engine. Each brand will have its own version of the car. Production will start in Japan in late 2011.

07/17/09 Another big rumor in the Nurburgring paddock last weekend was that the Japanese carmaker Toyota may be close to announcing its decision to withdraw from formula one.

06/01/09 Speculation is growing that Toyota is to depart Formula One after the world's largest car manufacturer withdrew Fuji Speedway as one of the venues for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The circuit – set evocatively at the foothills of the iconic Mount Fuji to the west of Tokyo – returned to the top flight in 2007 after an absence of three decades and following extensive modifications on safety grounds, and is currently alternating with Suzuka as the country's grand prix host.

However, it has now been disclosed by Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun that Toyota – who own the track – have chosen to pull Fuji from the 2010 schedule, meaning the race will remain at Suzuka for the foreseeable future.

It is understood that financial considerations have played a significant part in the decision, but a Toyota spokesman told news agency AFP that Fuji would not give up the grand prix, insisting instead that the circuit is making preparations to host F1 next year'. Yahoo! Sports

05/28/09 (GMM) Timo Glock has acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the future in formula one of his employer Toyota.

Prior to the start of the 2009 season, officials of the Cologne based outfit made clear the ultimatum that without a maiden win this year, Toyota's future on the grid was dire.

Moreover, Toyota is currently among the hard-liners of the FOTA alliance, and until now has staunchly refused to accept any compromise that would result in a budget cap descending on the sport.

At the same time, speculation persists that Tokyo executives have already decided to quit F1 following November's Abu Dhabi season finale.

"Clearly this relates also to my own job, but I cannot influence the politics," German Glock, 27, told the Cologne newspaper Express.

Worsening the situation even further, Toyota's performance at Monaco last weekend was disastrous, despite the team's strong start to the season, resulting in its current third position in the constructors' championship.

Glock said: "I am confident Monaco was a one-off because we had been really competitive in the previous races, so we know the car is pretty good."

05/09/09 (GMM) News fluttered around the Barcelona paddock after qualifying that Toyota is threatening to quit formula one over the "budget cap" row with the FIA.

It was reported from the venue of the Spanish grand prix on Saturday that team president John Howett said that, as things are written in the newly published regulations, the Japanese squad does not plan to lodge an entry for the 2010 championship.

Entries for 2010, to accompany a 309,000 entry fee, close on May 29.

BMW and Ferrari have made similar noises about looking outside of F1 due to the disagreements with Max Mosley, leading Bernie Ecclestone on Saturday to try to calm the waters.

"Formula one is Ferrari and Ferrari is formula one," he told reporters. "It's just a marriage made in heaven, one of those super things that work well."

Crucially, despite recent rumors, Norbert Haug is reported to have made clear that Mercedes-Benz sees its future on the grid.

He told the Austrian daily Der Standard that even amid the economic crisis, the marque's expenditure on F1 is "absolutely justifiable".

As a marketing medium, he said the sport is "incomparable".

"If we were to buy TV and radio spots, as well as space in the print and web media, a similar presence would cost much more than ten times our formula one budget," said Haug.

05/09/09 The Toyota team is close to pulling out of Formula 1, it has warned, after seeing the two other Japanese teams – Super Aguri and Honda – leave the sport last year. The team is not happy with the FIA's new proposed regulations for a budget cap and 'two tier' system to be introduced next season, forecasting little future in the sport for next season. "Under the rules as they are published, we cannot submit an entry," team president John Howett told Autosport. "There are concerns about the governance process within the sport, that there are clearly prescribed areas of discussion within the sporting and technical rules and we don't feel they are being complied with.

"From Toyota's perspective there are a number of concerns that really need clarifications before we commit to the future; we want to be here, we believe we have been a good corporate citizen within the F1 environment, but now we must reflect long and hard on what we do in the future."

As a result of Howett's comments, the chances of seeing the team remain in the sport for 2010 appear slim unless regulations are modified by governing body the FIA. "I would say it is very likely we won't enter unless something changes significantly," he confirmed.

Leave a Reply