F1 heads meet again as deadline looms

Toyota's change of management could be the death knell for its F1 team

Toyota's change of management could be the death knell for its F1 team

Today sees yet another meeting on the future of F1 as the teams and the FIA scramble to reach an accord before the FIA’s Friday deadline.

Williams’ decision to submit an entry for next year’s championship appears to signal a split in the F1 teams’ association. But are some teams preparing to take the opposite route and quit the sport entirely?

As the deadline draws closer there have been suggestions that some teams may choose to quit the sport entirely if they don’t get their way. Which ones are most likely to?


BMW’s dissatisfaction with another FIA-run series, the World Touring Car Championship, has driven them to breaking point. BMW had won four consecutive titles in the series with Andy Priaulx, but believe FIA rules changes have left them unable to compete.

Mario Theissen said:

The decisions taken were not communicated cleanly – that means competitors did not know what the situation was, and under which circumstances and conditions the other competitors were racing. This only became clear when there was a protest.

This was in reference to BMW being unaware what boost pressure rivals Seat were allowed to use. But it’s not difficult to see BMW’s grievances about differing technical regulations mirrored in the FIA’s controversial proposed two-tier system.

Simply put, BMW’s exasperation with the FIA’s governance may not be confined to the WTCC. Having compromised their 2008 F1 programme to develop their 2009 machine, but finding it uncompetitive partly thanks to the FIA’s handling of the diffuser rules, it’s not hard to imagine how they might be frustrated by the FIA.

It has spoken of competing in another touring car championship. Defecting to the DTM would put it up against its two major domestic rivals, Audi and Mercedes, which could serve as an alternative not just to the WTCC – but F1 as well.


Toyota’s future in F1 was in doubt before the season began, especially so after the withdrawal of arch-rival Honda in December.

Over the winter team boss John Howett set the team a target of winning a race this year, coming off the back of seven seasons that yielded just eight podium finishes:

We have to win, I think that?s clear. This organisation really only exists to win so we have to realise that we need to really make a change and deliver some outstanding performance this year.

Toyota might have already delivered on that had it not been for the odd strategy in Bahrain. But since that race the team have bombed, finishing qualifying at Monaco with the two slowest times.

Next month Akio Toyoda, grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda, will take over as chief executive of the company from Katsuaki Watanabe. Drastic changes are expected: in February the company projected a $3.5bn (??2.2bn/??2.5bn) loss for the last financial year – earlier this month it confirmed a figure of $4.4bn (??2.8bn/??3.1bn).

What chances, then, the future of what has been F1’s biggest-spending team for several years, which under Howett is arguing for the right to spend more than ??40m per season?

Perhaps Williams’ decision to sign up to the 2010 rules gives us an inkling of what the future holds for Toyota’s F1 team. Williams’ Toyota engine contract is up for renewal this year. If Toyota are indeed on their way out of the sport, Williams will need a new engine deal, and the FIA’s customer Cosworth engines could be just the ticket.


Given their slump in form post-2006, and inability to capitalise on the new regulations to re-discover their form this year, it’s hardly a surprise that Fernando Alonso is being touted as a Ferrari driver in 2010.

Renault has received a ??6bn (??5.5bn) bail out from Nicolas Sarkozy’s government – would it be politically wise to spend a chunk of that money on running an F1 team?

It has also lost primary sponsor ING, the Dutch bank which was also forced to turn to its government for help.

Read more: ING quits F1 ?ǣ will Renault follow?


Have made a lot of threats about leaving F1, but where would their marketing presence be without it?

Would they get anything like the same kind of exotic appeal racing a diesel at Le Mans, or running an effective one-make series in the form of A1 Grand Prix?

In the wider economy some analysts are optimistically talking about ‘green shoots’ of recovery. But as has often been well observed in the past, motor sport tends to feel the full brunt of a recession long after it hits the headlines. The shockwaves travel through sponsors and manufacturers and eventually hit the teams in the form of slashed budgets.

Is that going to happen now? Can the teams, Mosley and Ecclestone reach a new deal that keeps the remaining manufacturers in the sport while enticing new teams in to replace those that will depart?

Which F1 teams do you think will still be competing in 2010? Cast your vote and have your say below:

Update: Sorry about the broken poll before – this has now been fixed!

Which teams will still be in F1 next year?

  • Ferrari (68%)
  • McLaren (83%)
  • BMW (39%)
  • Renault (44%)
  • Toyota (24%)
  • Williams (90%)
  • Red Bull (76%)
  • Toro Rosso (61%)
  • Brawn GP (93%)
  • Force India (83%)

Total Voters: 250

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130 comments on F1 heads meet again as deadline looms

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  1. epi said on 27th May 2009, 10:23

    I think the poll is rigged :), it says maximum number of choices is 1?

  2. ajokay said on 27th May 2009, 10:26

    Clicked vote, error message:

    “Maximum number of choices allowed: 1.”

    Well… ok, Williams it is then.

  3. Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 10:34

    Yep, it only allows you to make one choice.

    The obvious answer therefore is Williams ;-)

    For the record, in order of likelyness, I rate Toyota, Renault & then BMW to pull out before anyone else. In fact I don’t see anyone else pulling out, and I for one won’t miss the 3 manufacturers… well maybe Renault & Flav a little.

    Cosworth is going to have a bumber year next year. Ferrari & Mercedes probably supplying 3 teams each (maybe 4 for Mercedes). If I was Mercedes I would return to engine/gearbox/kers (or combinations of) supplier only, ditch the partnership with McLaren… and get the badge on all the supplied teams.

    • Tom Watson said on 27th May 2009, 17:08

      Aren’t mercedes major share holders in mclaren, like 40% and mclaren are much more than just an f1 team

    • Tom Watson said on 27th May 2009, 17:22

      Aren’t mercedes major share holders in mclaren, like 40% and mclaren have other divisions. So would it not be more beneficial to continue it’s partnership with mclaren in motorsport and the roadcar aspects as well as engine supplier to multiple teams?

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 18:44

      Yeah, you’re probably true. I guess I just want the teams to operate independently of the manufacturers, who would just supply the engines.

  4. Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 10:35

    ps. I don’t expect them all to pull out next year (though they might) but I expect the 3 I mentioned to pull out before anyone else does.

  5. rayan said on 27th May 2009, 10:44

    i voted 4 force india.but i really worry abt ferrari.if they quit,i will not watch f1,hope many do the same

  6. PJA said on 27th May 2009, 10:54

    I think Williams, Brawn, Force India and McLaren will definitely be in F1 next year. Ferrari and Red Bull may miss the deadline but will most likely still be in also. Toro Rosso will probably also be in but possibly under different ownership. While Toyota, Renault and BMW may use the current argument as an excuse to quit F1.

  7. CRM said on 27th May 2009, 10:56

    The combination of not challenging for the title and the recession will be the end of Toyota and BMW in F1 I think (for next few seasons at least). Theres no way they can justify an unsuccesful F1 operation with road car sales plummeting and the companies themselves struggling.

    Hopefully Renault and Ferrari will both stay.

  8. schumi the greatest said on 27th May 2009, 11:43

    I dont think ferrari will pull out their threats are just a way to try and get their own way again!

    I think toyota are pretty much gone already, before the season started i remember trulli saying they had 2 win in the 1st 6 races or it would be the end of the team. Well 6 races in they havent won a race although this has been their most competetive year to date.

    BMW have ended up with alot of egg on their face, they were the ones who opposed to the delay in kers and they dont even use it now because their car is poor. i dont know much about the fall out with the wtcc thing but i think they definitley are considering their future.

    Renault always seem to be on about pulling out, wasnt that the reason alonso signed a deal with mclaren staright after hed won his 1st tittle??

    the global recession and the consequent pathetic arguing with the fia has given them an excuse to pull out.

    When i 1st heard about this row and teams threatening to pull out i was worried about how it would affect the sport i love so much and whether id ever have the same enthusiasm to watch it without the big names but, before jaguar bought stewart in 99 the only full manafacturer team was ferrari. f1 was great before and it will be the same again, it will bring back the privateers who only want to be there to race, not use it as an expensive pr exercise.

    Aslong as other teams can come in and replace the manafacturers il be happy, f1 is probably in the best shape ive ever seen it in terms of talented drivers.

    Long live f1

  9. StrFerrari4Ever said on 27th May 2009, 11:50

    It seems as if the big guns Ferrari , Toyota , Renault & BMW could miss the FIA’S deadline date but they will soon realise the importance of F1 to them and possibly buy a small team and bring in their personel etc.
    Regarding Red Bull & Toro Rosso I really dont know what Mr Mateschitz will do I hope they do stay on and people suggesting that Toro Rosso will be bought is pretty absurd because on their website on an article they said they wouldn’t sell up despite Red Bull wanting a buyer they said they are in a healthy condition and have no reason to quit or be bought out.
    That sounds very reassuring for me as an STR fan.
    Regarding the other teams particularly the British teams Mclaren , Williams , Brawn & you could say Force India as it was former Jordan and is British based they will stay on In my honest opinion.

  10. m0tion said on 27th May 2009, 11:50

    I heard Windsor saying that the Cosworth needs to run out to 20,000 rpm to be usable and they can’t be reengineered in time. That means a 2 speed regulatory environment is absolutely on the table anyway because I don’t think the manufacturers besides maybe Renault could turn the crew back up again quickly due to major mods they have made through last year on the engines. I am a supporter of 2 speed because I can’t see it happening any other way. If some one could explain how any new entrant could get in and financed without it I would listen. And staying with or supporting the current grid encumbancy with Toyota in doubt and Torro Rosso on the edge of their seats looks an impossible option too.

  11. Prisoner Monkeys said on 27th May 2009, 11:55

    I suspect that if anyone withdraws, it will be over sponsorship or a lack of results. In fact, I’d say all ten teams have prepared entries for 2010; all that remains is to submit them.

    If anybody is going to go, it’s Renault. Yes, Alonso had some results last year, but they came under some pretty exceptional circumstances, like Massa’s fuel rig tearing in Singapore. They simply can’t get any results, and Briatore’s poor management style means Alonso is the ony one who has any chance at anything.

  12. Striay said on 27th May 2009, 12:15

    The poll should allow more than 1 choice. Also Williams should not be included because they have already entered the 2010 championship, so ive heard. I know they could bail out due to financial problems like Honda but, we are talking about the rule changes here arent we? (correct me if im wrong)!

  13. Ronman said on 27th May 2009, 12:16

    Same grievance as the first comments, i think all will stay and Toyota might take the highway.

    however BMW’s lack of performance this year has nothing to do with how the FIA handled Diffuser gate. more like how they completely misunderstood the regulations to start with. i think they put too much effort into Kers and sacrificed the effort needed on design. or something along those lines….

    Toyota will probably go, cause 8 years billions of dollars and 0 wins is aching for someone to fall on his sword in the land of the rising sun.

    Renault can leave, they have other series they already handle be it formula renault or world series, their absence from formula one will not make the Twingo handle any worse.

    Ferrari on the other hand will loose possibly as much as F1 in terms of appeal in case they do leave. it’s hard to distinguish one without the other. to what series would F1 lean to when marketing the new gearbox on the 599? or the suspension setting on the next F car? they need F1, just like F1 needs them.

    eventually i can see that both FIA and the teams will compromise to keep Bernie and the fans happy. fans, even casual ones will drop both the team’s and F1 if both cease to exist, and if they spilt that’s what they would be doing.

    however if Max, and that’s my biggest take on MadMax, wants F1 to be cheaper, and more accessible, he should come up with a trick to force Ecclestone to lower his fees and charge circuit attendance much much much less than he does today. because a sport with half empty grandstands is not truly worth saving, for TV viewers, they can just switch to the next channel. or is Bernie planning some sort of future like we saw in the movie death race?

    • persempre said on 27th May 2009, 21:50

      This is the same Max & FIA who made each entry pay a 48 million dollar bond, isn`t it?
      That`s why the small teams couldn`t play & that was precisely the reason the bond was brought in – to keep them out.

  14. S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 12:24

    It sounds like something out of ‘The Godfather’ – the heads of the Five Families meeting. I just think Mosley should resign. They can’t do anything with his attitude and intransigence. I also think they should stick together and am very disappointed with Williams.

    On a different note, what a boring championship! It’s kind of over already. Contrast that to the last 2 years, particularly last year, when it was all decided on the final corner of the final lap of the final race. And it infuriates me when people pontificate about Button being “the most complete driver in F1”. Does that mean that Rubens Barrichello is the second most complete driver as he lies second? NO, it means that the Brawn car is head and shoulders above the rest of the field and any driver on the grid in one of those cars would be first or second. What a farce of a season. At least last year, the McLaren and the Ferrari were more evenly matched with each car shining at different circuits throughout the year. If Button wins this year, it will be the most undeserved in F1 history. Rant over!

    • ajokay said on 27th May 2009, 14:04

      If Hamilton was in the Brawn and winning the championship, would you think he was the most complete driver in F1? I bet you would.

    • Rabi said on 27th May 2009, 15:14

      that’s not what he’s saying.

      and i completely agree with him on both counts

    • leo said on 27th May 2009, 15:18

      To Hughes the rant,just a tad over the top there,Hughes.
      Seems to me,no one gave a dame while BUTTON Was doing badly.
      Now that he has great ride,you think it’s Bogus!!!
      Give some though to 10 boring years we had w/ Ferrari.
      That was so much fun,iam still getting over it
      Just to mention (boring)I Recall a remark from Ron.
      Well,they need to catch up to us……..leo

    • S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 15:28

      If Hamilton was in the Brawn and winning the championship, would you think he was the most complete driver in F1? I bet you would.

      If Lewis and Heikki in the Brawn were 1 and 2 in most races in a season, I would have the honesty to admit it is a huge amount down to the car. Especially as there are excellent drivers like Kimi, Massa and Alonso coming nowhere near.

    • Alex Bkk said on 27th May 2009, 15:40

      Dougie, yes that was meant for you, but it seems your a big fan of everyone;)

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 16:08

      If Lewis and Heikki in the Brawn were 1 and 2 in most races in a season, I would have the honesty to admit it is a huge amount down to the car. Especially as there are excellent drivers like Kimi, Massa and Alonso coming nowhere near.

      I think anyone and everyone who knows Formula 1 knows that it is a “huge amount down to the car”. Hence why “great” drivers like Alonso, Kimi & Lewis are nowhere and now its Jensons turn at the front. However this is now Buttons chance to show just how he belongs in that group, and I for one have always believed in him and his performances this year confirm that. To knock what are great performances in the car (and I agree Martin Brundle overstepped the mark) is in my view acting blind to the reality.

      Ross Brawn at the start of the season openly admitted he did not know Button as he hadn’t worked with him much, but the team were telling him that Jenson was one to watch… and Ross now concurs with that view and even makes references to Schumacher when talking about him… these are all people who know what makes a good driver great.

      I’m not saying who is better than who, but Jenson has shown this year (and in previous years in my view) that he is a top drawer driver waiting for the right car. Here it is and his performances in it are outstanding!

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 16:19

      Dougie, yes that was meant for you, but it seems your a big fan of everyone;)

      LOL!! Not quite, there are some exceptions :-D

    • Scott Joslin said on 27th May 2009, 19:27

      Deal with it, this stuff happens throughout F1 all the time. Are you going discredit almost every champion ever that drove a car with an advantage over their rivals, Schumacher, Senna, Prost all had the best car with clear advantages over their rivals when they won some of their championships – are you going to take strips off them too? Brawn did a better job than everyone else and Jenson is driving superbly is delivering the maximum that car and achieve, that’s all he can do.

      If you want car equallity too then follow nascar or GP2 – This is always going to happen.

  15. Richard said on 27th May 2009, 12:26

    Williams’ decision to submit an entry for next year’s championship appears to signal a split in the F1 teams’ association.

    I dont think thats quite right. Williams like force india and brawn are racing teams, that is all, unlike ferrari bmw etc who have the retail cars, i think williams will race in F1 as long as they can afford it, the FIA know that FOTA know it and i dont think its big news.

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