Toyota committed to F1? Could be next out of F1

UPDATE #3 (GMM) Toyota chiefs have effectively confirmed reports that a poor showing in 2009 will spell an end to the Japanese manufacturer's formula one foray.

At and before the recent launch of the new TF109 car, representatives of the Cologne based squad intimated that without a successful campaign this season, the Toyota board could echo Honda's decision to withdraw.

"We need a strong season," team president John Howett confirmed at the Algarve circuit on Tuesday, where Toyota and other teams are testing their new cars.

He said the team is under "increased scrutiny" from its bosses in Tokyo due to the world financial crisis.

"If we have a weak season we have no future," Howett added.

Howett and his management colleagues have set the target of securing Toyota's first race victory in 2009, and driver Jarno Trulli told an Italian newspaper just before the recent launch that a win within six races in 2009 is necessary.

Howett responded: "Whether we have to win is difficult to say, but I think we feel we have to win.

"It's our desire and our passion, shared by our people in Cologne, and we feel we must win to secure a very bright future in formula one."

One factor in the team's favor could be the new promotion to president of the Toyota Motor Corporation of Akio Toyoda.

"Mr. Akio Toyoda is a fan of motor sport and he himself used to do some races, for example participating in the Nurburgring 24 hours," team boss Tadashi Yamashina said.

Yamashina suggested that Toyota's outgoing president, Katsuaki Watanabe, had recently overseen a review of the formula one project.

"Fortunately for us, our president decided that we will stay (in F1)," he is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.

"This season is therefore very important for us. We need to reduce costs and demonstrate to Toyota that the investment in formula one is worthwhile," he added.

12/07/08 The most obvious candidates to follow Honda out of F1's door are Japanese rivals Toyota. The Japan Automobile Dealers Association say Japan's carmakers suffered their biggest drop in sales of new cars for 39 years last month. This coincided with Toyota announcing that by March 2009 their net income would be $5.88bn – a 68 per cent decrease on last year. Their shares have lost 52 per cent of their value over the past year which could leave shareholders demanding they boost profits by ditching costly outgoings – such as the huge F1 expenses.

According to F1's industry monitor Formula Money, F1's team owners invested $1.6bn in the sport in 2008 with Honda leading the pack having given their team $353m. It was followed by Toyota, who spent $300m, and Mercedes, who gave $265m to Lewis Hamilton's McLaren team.

In the past five years, Toyota are believed to have burned through $1.4bn in F1, which puts their involvement at high risk given they spent $1.4bn to look like an inferior product to their competitors. Toyota said on Friday they are "currently committed to succeeding in Formula One and to reducing costs", but a commitment to remaining in the sport was missing.

12/06/08 Other sources are telling that Toyota will follow Honda and soon announce their withdrawal from F1 where their budgets are high and all they get for it is to make their product look inferior against the likes of Ferrari, BMW, and Mercedes. Imagine spending $300 million a year in F1 to look like a complete loser!

12/05/08 Despite the fact that Honda announced its immediate withdrawal from the pinnacle of motorsport, the other big Japanese manufacturer, Toyota, declared in a statement that it is still committed to succeeding in Formula One.

A statement read: "Toyota is currently committed to succeeding in Formula One and to reducing our costs. We are contributing to the FOTA activities which will achieve significant cost reductions whilst maintaining the spirit of the sport.

"We hope FOTA's proposals and activities will be given the widespread support they deserve as they provide the sound, stable base Formula One requires at this time."

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