Huge losses forces Toyota to walk away from F1

TOYOTA dealt Formula One another savage blow yesterday when it became the third manufacturer to abandon the sport in less than a year.

The surprise move, which Toyota blamed on “severe economic realities” and takes effect immediately, came after the Japanese company recorded its worst ever set of financial results earlier this year.

Toyota’s departure follows the decision of BMW and Honda to desert F1 in the last 11 months owing to the huge costs involved.

And speculation mounted yesterday that Renault could be next, after the French manufacturer convened an emergency board meeting.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda announced the decision at an emotional press conference.

“Toyota Motor Corporation, which had viewed its participation in F1 as contributing to the prosperity of automotive culture, remained dedicated to competing at the pinnacle of motor sports, even in the face of the abrupt economic changes that started last year,” he said.

“However, when considering TMC’s motor-sports activities next year and beyond from a comprehensive mid-term viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1.”

Renault, meanwhile, was believed to be discussing whether to stay on, downgrade to just supplying engines or quit altogether.

Toyota finished fifth in the 2009 constructors’ championship but never won a grand prix in its eight years on the track.

Sauber, who were bought earlier this year by Notts County owners Qadbak Investments, were on stand-by for next season and are expected to take Toyota’s place on the grid. Toyota’s drivers, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, had already been expected to move.

Trulli is tipped to join newcomers Lotus, while Glock is set to move to Renault if they indeed continue.

Doubts were raised over Toyota’s future in F1 when the world’s largest car manufacturer announced a £2.9bn loss in May. Uncertainty also arose when the Williams team, to whom it supplied engines, cancelled its contract with Toyota a year early, and when the Fuji Speedway circuit, which is owned by Toyota, was pulled from the F1 calendar.

Those doubts were dispelled in August, however, when Toyota joined other teams in committing to competing in the championship until 2012.


Team starts season in good form, Jarno Trulli taking third place in Australia

Manufacturer announces £2.9bn loss

Fuji Speedway is pulled from calendar

Williams ends engine deal with Toyota

Team signs Concorde Agreement, committing to F1 until 2012

Announces it is quitting F1