Lexus to F1?

Toyota has joined the frame of potential engine suppliers to Williams in the near future, as speculations continue that current Grove engine partners, BMW, may acquire the Sauber team in the next few months and make it its works outfit, perhaps as early as next year.

As the BMW-Sauber rumor has been afloat for quite a while, other engine manufacturers such as Honda and Cosworth – which will lose its current main customer, Red Bull, due to a Ferrari switch next year – have emerged as future Williams suppliers. Formula 1’s manufacturers have all committed to, if necessary, sell engines to one additional team besides their “official" entry.

Toyota’s name has now come to the fore for two reasons: first, it reportedly no longer wants to have Jordan as its customer team. The Japanese manufacturer sees little marketing value in being linked to the Silverstone-based backmarkers, so much so that there are no mentions to Toyota in the current EJ15’s livery.

Second, and perhaps most important, Toyota’s association with Williams would be backed by a strong marketing plan. The Japanese auto giant is currently in the process of turning its once American-only brand, Lexus, into a global brand.

Lexus’ worldwide expansion includes its introduction into the domestic Japanese market (where its cars were previously sold as Toyotas), and partnering it with a proven squad such as Williams would provide it with a strong marketing platform. In addition, a Williams-Lexus could help the premium marque to get past the conservative image it holds in several major markets, the U.S. included.

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