Toyota withdraws from Formula One

Formula One has lost its third team in less than 12 months with the news that Toyota will quit the sport with immediate effect.

The Japanese car company revealed the decision during a news conference in Tokyo. It said the current economic situation had prompted its departure.

“Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces it plans to withdraw from the FIA Formula 1 world championship at the end of the 2009 season,” said a Toyota statement.

“TMC, 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.

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

The team’s Formula One future had been widely doubted since Honda withdrew at the end of last season. Toyota originally entered the sport in 2002 to compete with its rival, which had returned as an engine supplier two years earlier.

Toyota had also pulled its Fuji Speedway racing circuit, which hosted the 2007 and 2008 Japanese Grands Prix, blaming the worldwide financial problems.

However Toyota did signed a new Concorde Agreement, committing it to the world championship through 2012, and team boss John Howett was adamant that the squad would be on the grid next year although there were hints of a reduced budget.

The team had been pressing ahead with its 2010 preparations including the possibility of signing big name drivers like Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica. There was even talks of signing impressive stand-in Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi for next year as recently as last weekend.

Toyota’s current drivers, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, had already been expected to move on.

“TMC also wants to express its heartfelt gratitude to all Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers to date and to all Toyota Motorsport GmbH employees who have helped make the team’s achievements possible,” said the statement.

“TMC intends to do its best to find a solution for those parties who will be affected by any inconvenience this decision may cause.”

Toyota entered Formula One in 2002, and was tipped to swiftly become a championship challenger given its massive budget and resources. But the team has yet to win a race and has just three pole positions, 13 podium finishes, and a best result of fourth in the 2005 constructors’ standings to show for its 139 grands prix.

The departure of Toyota is set to throw the former BMW Sauber team a lifeline, as the Hinwil squad and its new owners had been relying on another team dropping out in order to claim the final spot in next season’s expanded 26-car entry.

Toyota added that it would continue to use its Formula One experience in “developing exciting production vehicles” and that it would remain involved in motor racing, albeit at a lower level.

“In motorsports, [Toyota] will not only race in various categories, but will also actively contribute to further development of motorsports by supporting grassroots races and planning events in which it is easy for people to participate.”

11 thoughts to “Toyota withdraws from Formula One”

  1. Toyota says it regrets its lack of success in Formula 1, and apologised to its fans as it announced its decision to leave the sport today.

    When the Japanese car giant joined the world championship in 2002, rivals feared its huge budget and the company’s technical resources would see it swiftly become a title contender.

    But it never lived up to expectations, failing to score any wins during its eight seasons in F1. Its best constructors’ championship position was fourth in 2005.

    Company president Akio Toyoda told a news conference in Tokyo that economic pressures had forced its exit, and that it was disappointing to be leaving the sport before it had achieved its goals.

    “This was a difficult but ultimately unavoidable decision,” Toyoda was quoted as saying by Reuters. “Since last year with the worsening economic climate, we have been struggling with the question of whether to continue in F1. We are pulling out of Formula 1 completely.

    “I offer my deepest apologies to Toyota’s many fans for not being able to achieve the results we had targeted.”

    Toyota came closest to victory at the start of 2005, when its car proved the closest challenger to eventual champion Renault in the opening rounds, but it had to settle for podium finishes.

    It was also among the frontrunners at the start of this season, benefiting from being one of the three teams to capitalise on the double diffuser rules loophole, but did not convert that pace into a win.

    The team leaves F1 with a tally of three pole positions and 13 podium finishes.


  2. Cosworth has expressed its sadness at news of Toyota’s departure from Formula 1, and said the decision emphasised the need to keep pushing cost cuts forward.

    British engine manufacturer Cosworth is returning the sport next year to power the new Lotus, US F1, Campos and Manor teams, plus former champion Williams – the latter having ended its Toyota deal early in order to reunite with former supplier Cosworth.

    Toyota announced earlier today that it was to leave F1 with immediate effect due to the worldwide economic situation.

    “The decision by Toyota Motor Corporation to withdraw from Formula 1 with immediate effect is deeply regretted but underlines the importance of all stakeholders in the sport working together to ensure a profitable and sustainable future,” said Cosworth F1 boss Mark Gallagher.

    “We look forward to working with the FIA, the Commercial Rights Holder, the teams and other engine manufacturers in protecting the future of Formula 1 and building on the very positive developments in the sport as reflected in Sunday’s inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”


  3. The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) says it is sorry to see Toyota leave Formula 1 but insists the sport is still in a period of strength.

    Toyota is the third manufacturer to walk away from the sport in the last 12 months, following Honda and BMW, after announcing its departure on Wednesday morning.

    “The Formula One Teams’ Association today expressed sadness at the unexpected decision by Toyota to withdraw,” the statement said. “All the FOTA teams send sincere messages of goodwill to all at Toyota – staff, drivers and sponsors – and thank them for the positive contribution they have made to Formula 1 in recent years.

    “Regrettably, notwithstanding Toyota’s commitment to compete until 2012 deriving from the signature of the Concorde Agreement, the particular financial pressures within the car manufacturing industry – together with a period of uncertainty and unnecessary confrontation in F1 that is now finally over – created conditions which have made it difficult for Toyota to stay in the sport at this time.

    “We hope very much that Toyota will return in the not too distant future, but in the meantime every effort must be made by the sport’s management to ensure that the 2010 season is as successful as we all hope.”

    The statement added that F1 needs to do all it can to retain the remaining manufacturers.

    “These efforts should include ensuring that the 2010 grid remains fully subscribed – we should remember that there are still more teams entered than in any year since 1995 – and that our sport remains a focus for technological innovation and competitive racing.

    “The departure of an important car manufacturer cannot be underestimated and its reasons need to be addressed.”

    FOTA also paid tribute to Toyota team boss John Howett, who served as FOTA vice chairman throughout 2009.

    “FOTA also wishes to put on record its thanks to John Howett for his great passion and his fundamental contribution in his role as vice chairman of FOTA, in helping negotiate the new Concorde Agreement, securing longer term stability in F1’s rules and a more constructive, collaborative environment with all stakeholders.”


  4. The FIA has described Bridgestone and Toyota’s decisions to exit Formula 1 as a ‘concern’ – and says it wants to clarify Toyota’s legal position as it had previously committed to the sport until 2012.

    Toyota, along with all the other current teams, had signed the new Concorde Agreement in the summer, binding the Japanese company to F1 for the next three seasons.

    Although in theory its departure releases a place on the 2010 grid for the former BMW Sauber team – which is set to be rescued by the Qadback organisation but only had a reserve entry for next year – the FIA says it needs to know more about Toyota’s situation before it can admit an alternative team.

    “Urgent clarification is now being sought from the Toyota F1 team as to its legal position in relation to the championship,” said an FIA statement. “This will have a direct bearing on the admission of any future 13th entry.”

    The statement added that Toyota’s sudden decision to pull out having already signed the Concorde Agreement contrasted with Bridgestone’s declaration earlier this week that it would leave F1 when its current tyre supply deal ended at the end of next year.

    “The announcements this week by Toyota and Bridgestone of their withdrawal from Formula One are of concern to the FIA,” said the governing body.

    “Bridgestone has given almost 18 months’ notice of its intentions, thereby allowing the necessary arrangements to be made for the future supply of tyres to the championship.

    “Toyota’s decision, however, comes just weeks after its F1 team signed the new Concorde Agreement until 2012.”

    Earlier this year the FIA agreed to let the teams put together their own plans for drastic cost cuts rather than imposing its previously announced budget cap scheme. It said that Toyota’s withdrawal emphasised that reducing budgets remained an urgent priority – and one it had been making for some time.

    “The FIA has repeatedly warned that motor sport cannot outpace the world economic crisis. That is why the competing teams have been asked to cut costs and the entry of independent teams has been encouraged.

    “The FIA accepted the cost-reduction measures put forward by the teams on the basis that they would ensure a long-term commitment to the championship. Toyota’s announcement demonstrates the importance of the original cost-reduction measures set out by the FIA.

    “The FIA will now work to ensure that Toyota’s departure is managed in the best interests of the championship and will continue to encourage the F1 teams to undertake the necessary cost-cutting measures for the good of the sport.”


  5. Ferrari has suggested that the departure of Toyota, BMW and Honda from Formula 1 in the past year is due to the actions of the sport’s bosses rather than the economic downturn.

    Toyota announced its decision to pull out of the world championship earlier today, citing the “current severe economic realities” as the reason for its abrupt exit.

    But an item published on Ferrari’s official website argued that Toyota and its fellow car makers’ decisions had been prompted by a ‘war on manufacturers’ in F1.

    “In reality the steady trickle of desertion is more the result of a war against the big car manufacturers by those who managed the sport, than the effects of the economical that affected Formula 1 over the last years,” it read.

    The article reiterated Ferrari’s belief that the independent teams that have been granted 2010 entries are not of the calibre of the manufacturer outfits.

    “Formula 1 continues losing important parts: over the last 12 months Honda, BMW, Bridgestone and this morning Toyota announced their retirements. In exchange, if one could call it that, Manor, Lotus [because of the team of Colin Chapman, Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna, to name a few, there is hardly more than the name], USF1 and Campos Meta arrived.

    “You might say ‘same-same’, because it is enough if there are participants. But that’s not entirely true and then we’ve got to see if next year we’ll be really as many in Bahrain for the first starting grid of the 2010 season and how many will make it to the end of the season.”

    The piece also made a cryptic comparison between F1’s situation and an Agatha Christie mystery novel, and urged the sport to take action against those responsible for the pull-outs.

    “It seems like a parody of Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little Indians’, published in England for the first time in the year 1939, but reality is much more serious.

    “In Christie’s detective novel the guilty person is only discovered when everybody else is dead, one after the other. Do we want to wait until this happens or should we write Formula 1’s book with a different closing chapter?”

    Ferrari’s statement comes on a day when Renault – one of only three manufacturers left in F1 alongside Ferrari and Mercedes – is also evaluating its F1 future. The company is discussing its plans at an extraordinary meeting.


  6. Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes that Formula 1 is in good health despite Toyota becoming the third manufacturer to quit the sport in the last 12 months.

    Horner pointed to the fact that 13 teams are still planning to be on the grid for next year’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, as Toyota’s withdrawal clears the way for the Qadbak Investments-owned Sauber team to compete provided the FIA hands it the slot, as proof that the sport is still strong.

    “Whilst it is a great shame for Formula 1, the show ultimately goes on and there will be more cars on the grid next year than we have seen in recent years,” Horner told AUTOSPORT.

    “Manufacturers have tended to come and go over the years, and although it’s disappointing to lose one of the biggest automotive manufacturers in the world it provides an opportunity for the now independent Sauber team to find their place on the grid. So out of a negative comes a positive.”

    Horner is also confident that Toyota’s withdrawal will not significantly weaken the Formula One Teams’ Association, despite the major role that team president John Howett has played as vice chairman and the manufacturer’s influence as a major automotive manufacturer.

    “Toyota have contributed hugely to FOTA, in particular John Howett who has worked tirelessly for FOTA. They will be a loss, but collectively the FOTA teams will sit down and decide how we move forward and deal with the vacancies that this has created.

    “FOTA is doing a lot of great work, it’s great to see the teams together working with the FIA and the commercial rights holder. The objective is the same for all parties and it’s important that we work together.”

    Horner added that he did not believe that Howett’s successor as vice chairman necessarily needs to come from an independent team despite their now being only three manufacturers remaining in F1.

    “To me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s from an independent team or a manufacturer as long as we get the right guy. John did very well to combine that with his full-time job in a grand prix team and he will be missed, especially by Luca de Montezemolo.

    “But things move on and there are a few faces that are missing in the room that were there at the beginning of the year. F1 is entering a new era.”


  7. So after complaining about the proposed budget cuts by the FIA, my employers are now quitting the sport. BUt who can blame them? They have done absolute squat in all the years they have raced F1 and completely wasted any opportunity to win or get good points. I think next year could have been better for them, but that’s been said before.
    When you have teams like Force India making more headlines than a team with virtually no spending limits, then it’s time to take a good look at how utterly useless you have been. There are no other words for them, sorry, but that’s how it is. Given the expenditure, their performance was not worth another season.
    I think time out for a few years and a complete structure change could mean a way back in might be on the cards. But that’s only if they’ll be let in. After all they have squelched on the Concord Agreement for which we still dont know what will come from that.
    TBO they wont be missed all that much. Yeah it’s a shame for all the employees and drivers, but given that galactic losses Toyota has suffered, there really was not much to they could have done. From what I hear, car production wise, most are doing better than we are, so there’s sod all money being made in the factories, and all anyone talked about was why Toyota was still in F1 when they don’t get close to a podium most of the time.

    Anyways, since I work for the road car side to the company, and didn’t support the F1 team, speaks volumes I think about how most of the world thought about them. Also, as mentioned, it’s now nice to know the 100’s of millions can now stop falling out of Toyota’s arse and can now be kept in the company. Though it’s far from broke ( NEVER made a loss and actually made billions of profit year on year ), it’s good to hear at least one massive leak has been blocked.

    Good read Elton.

    P.S. Just in case you didn’t get the jist of my post, Toyota sucked and yeah, glad they have called it a day!!!!

  8. Oh and by the start of next season I doubt we’ll have Renault either. IF there is not come back on Toyota for leaving after signing a contact then I just don’t see how failing teams can justify the lowly placings. Or at least a good excuse to use depending if you think there’s more to Toyota leaving than money. though that’s hard to believe since F1 now, is all about money.

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