Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

2009 F1 season

Toyota finished sixth and seventh in their final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi

Toyota finished sixth and seventh in their final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi

F1 has lost its third team in less than 12 months as Toyota has confirmed it will not compete in 2010.

It brings to an end the company’s eight-year involvement in Formula 1 during which time it is believed to have spent more money than any other team on the grid.

The team’s F1 future had been widely doubted since Honda withdrew at the end of 2008. Toyota originally entered F1 in 2002 to compete with Honda, which had returned as an engine supplier two years earlier.

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Suzuka, 2009Toyota joins a host of Japanese car manufacturers reducing their motor racing activity. Subaru, Mitsubishi and Suzuki have all down-sized their rally efforts, with the former quitting the World Rally Championship.

Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has also decided to leave F1 when its exclusive deal expires at the end of 2010. And the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, which was brought up to F1 standards to hold the Japanese Grand Prix in 2007 and 2008, will not be holding any more Grands Prix.

There were rumours earlier this year the team would only remain in F1 if it won a race. That it failed to do, despite locking out the front row of the grid at Bahrain. The failure to seize on that opportunity, and the demotion of both of its cars to the back of the grid at Melbourne – from where they rose to finish third and fourth – may have cost it its F1 future.

It ended 2009 fifth in the championship with 59.5 points. That was its second-best ever year in F1 – its highest placing was fourth with 88 points, in 2005.

Despite its lack of success there were some grounds for optimism the team would continue. Toyota boss John Howett was the vice-president of the Formula 1 teams’ association. He played a major role in the negotiations with the FIA over how F1 costs could be reduced and the team signed the Concorde Agreement committing it to remain in F1 until 2012.

But this desire to bring costs down and commit to the future of the sport has not spared the team. Last month Toyota’s new CEO Akio Toyoda said the company was “grasping for salvation” – given that grim assessment, it’s hrdly surprising its F1 team has been clsoed down.

As well as the hundreds of staff at its Cologne headquarters, spare a thought for Kamui Kobayashi. Just three days ago his impressive performance at Abu Dhabi was praised by the team and he was expected to earn a place in Toyota’s 2010 line-up.

That will not happen, though it remains to be seen if anyone might step in to take the team’s place in F1. If not, it presents an opportunity for Qadbak, who bought the remains of BMW’s F1 team, to get on the grid in 2010.

But the bad news may not be over just yet – Renault are holding a board meeting today to decide on the future of its team. Having been the focus of a major scandal this year, and with no title sponsor for 2010, could it become the fourth F1 team to quit?

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185 comments on Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

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  1. Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 4th November 2009, 11:13

    I guess the writing was on the wall when Williams announced they would be using Cossie engines next year.

    • mp4-19b said on 4th November 2009, 12:25

      And this is what happens when you hire people like Mike Gascoyne who waste company resources to inflate their pockets ;) What waste of time!! That leaves us with a Japanese free grid since when? 1984 perhaps? I know honda engine were rebadged Mugen & sold in the mid 90’s. Such a shame. Just when we thought that we’ve found the next big thing. Just hope that Koba lands up somewhere.Could Trulli’s strange behavior also be attributed to this?

      • Dougie said on 4th November 2009, 13:18

        Toyota’s most successful years were under Mike Gascoyne, as were Jordan’s, and the title winning Renault (as an evolution from previous years success) had Mike Gascoyne in it’s DNA.

        The only issue I see with MG is that it is “his way or no way!” causing many differences with management. Personally, with his record, I’d give him a budget and 3 years to score the win, and championship contention in the 4th year, if not before.

      • Terry Fabulous said on 4th November 2009, 21:46

        What are you saying!!!
        Gascoyne designed their fastest car and got them further up the grid then anyone else.

        Still it is a real shame to see them off the grid.

        Asian Pacific Races
        South Korea

        Asian Pacific Teams

        Asian Pacific Drivers

        And then have a look at the number of British Teams and Drivers and they may not even have one race!!

        What Gives!

        • The problem as I understand it with both Toyota and Honda was trying to run an F1 team from Japan by committee – both Gazza and Geoff Willis tried in vain to change their fortunes but it didn’t work.

          I’d have Gascoyne running the tech department of the F1Fanatic GP team in a flash…

        • Martin said on 4th November 2009, 23:12

          What gives is the heritage of the sport to line Bernies pockets.
          Only the fool Max would give a company like FOM a 100year contract..(is that a British thing to give a contract for such a long period)
          So now we are stuck with 5 races in the pacific, none in North America, only 1 in All the Western Hemisphere and 2 races in places that are Deserts. Europe gets the leftovers and only when the new sweeheart deal falls thru and Bernie has nowhere left to go. We may loose Spa, we have already lost France, it is all very very sad.
          The tracks we get now are designed by the great Tilke..its like televised sleeping pills.
          The sport and the teams need to get a hold of this situation and fix it before the sport becomes irrelevant.

        • How would one go about buying the team?
          Seriously… interested in how the rich go about it…

          One day VJ wakes up and goes I am going to buy and make FI..

          • Its probably less than you think… in fact I believe most teams get bought (rather than setting up new teams) as they dodge the ÂŁ25m down payment you have to make as a “new” team (I think?)

            Actually come to think of it didn’t Jordan do a piece on the cost of a team on BBC last weekend on race day?

        • mp4-19b said on 5th November 2009, 2:54

          Asian Pacific Teams

          Force India? I know they are based in silverstone, but…

          • Terry Fabulous said on 5th November 2009, 5:13

            Ah yes of course….
            That was remiss of me.

            Anyone else reckon that Force India was the story of the second half of the year?

  2. Keith,
    From where do you know about the Renault board meeting?
    Mo surprise about Toyota, but sad story for Kobayashi.

  3. Well Toyota have been rumoured to be quitting F1 for a few years now so it isn’t a massive surprise. Although they have blamed the economic climate, which of course had a big influence considering Toyota made its first ever loss, you can’t help but think that just like BMW and Honda before them if they had more on track success they wouldn’t have quit when they did.

    Considering they recently seemed to be seriously chasing Raikkonen and Kubica for next season, I wonder how borderline the decision was, if they could have signed a big name for 2010 would they still be around?

    Also as they signed the Concorde Agreement, and did they also sign something with the other FOTA members, do they have to pay some penalty for leaving F1 now?

    Personally I have always been indifferent to Toyota F1, they entered F1 as a manufacturer with probably the biggest budget of anyone so I wasn’t going to start supporting them because they were the underdogs, and I can’t say I was ever a big fan of any of their drivers.

    On the bright side at least this could mean Sauber will be in F1 next year, I just hope no other teams quit.

    • The_Pope said on 4th November 2009, 13:49

      I imagine the “penalty” is they forfeit their $50m-odd bond with Bernie (which is the whole point of it in the first place)

      • The bond, as I understand it, is paid back slowly over the first year or two of competition – basically it was there to deter any wannabe from having a big media conference saying they would be racing in F1 and then not turning up…

  4. This must be why tried to get Kimi so hard for next year.Getting a racer like him might have convinced them to try another year.

  5. James Bolton said on 4th November 2009, 11:23

    I suppose it’s safe to say the manufacturer boom is over. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a strong Formula 1 is made of teams who’s sole purpose is to win the F1 World Championship. It’s good that Williams are no longer alone in this position.
    The FIA must make sure the costs are kept down though, otherwise the independent teams won’t be able to remain in the sport for too many years.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th November 2009, 11:28

      I suppose it’s safe to say the manufacturer boom is over.

      Definitely. All the more so if Renault go too.

      • Scribe said on 4th November 2009, 12:35

        After singing Kubica and developing their car since Germany it does seems like Renault are here to stay. Thats a pretty clear statement of intent. I’m not to bothered about losing Toyota but it would be sad to loose Renault now.

        • Enigma said on 4th November 2009, 12:50

          Honda developed their 2009 challenger very early on in ’08 and pulled out at the last minute (big whoops), so anything is possible I guess.

    • Random Chimp said on 4th November 2009, 12:42

      Possibility of a new manufacturer team next year – Mercedes-Benz?

      • Derek said on 4th November 2009, 16:52

        Yes the ex-Brawn GP team.

        • Lol… it would be the best financial decision Brawn could ever make probably. I don’t see it repeating, Im expecting a McLaren run next year with Hamilton title no2 – if McLaren provide him a reasonable car (I don’t think it needs to be the best) I think he could go on to win as many as Schumacher.

  6. James said on 4th November 2009, 11:25

    The brief era of manufacturer domination in the sport – a mode that was seen as the future just two years ago – is finished.

    Manufacturers are fickle; they always have been. Their behaviour has disrupted and decimated other series like DTM and sportscars because they enter with massive investment, drive up costs, and leave on a whim. Of course, the exception to the rule are Ferrari (the exception to every rule, it would appear) but they at least have the commitment and passion to stick around.

    Thank goodness for the privateer teams. It is much healthier for the large auto companies to provide R&D and engines; that way there’s a sensible return on their investment, a career ladder for staff into the company if they choose, and if they leave they don’t leave an entire team in the lurch.


    • GeeMac said on 4th November 2009, 11:56

      Ferrari are the exception because (and I stand corrected here due to my limited knowledge of the Scuderia) Enzo’s sole desire was to go racing. As I understand it Enzo only sold road cars to fund his team’s racing efforts.

      • mp4-19b said on 4th November 2009, 12:30

        As I understand it Enzo only sold road cars to fund his team’s racing efforts.

        You are absolutely correct. Enzo sold cars just to fund his F1 team.

      • Ned Flanders said on 4th November 2009, 14:15

        The old saying in Japan was something like ‘Toyota go racing to sell cars, Honda sell cars to go racing’.

        But I think those days are over now, all Japanese TNC’s have one purpose- to make money. Even Ferrari are only in F1 because they’re a business- the romantic notion of selling cars to go racing died a long time ago…

    • Thank goodness for the privateer teams

      Totally agree with that. I used to think that the big manufacturers gave the sport some extra credability. My view of F1 has completely changed since summer. F1 would be better off with just privateer teams who only want to race and let the FIA make the rules. Mosley must have a big smile on his face.

      • mp4-19b said on 5th November 2009, 2:56

        I would watch formula one for as long as these three teams exist.


        The rest are noobies :P

        • Harv's said on 5th November 2009, 9:18

          dead right mp4! its the history thats part of the reason im obsesed!

          bernie is slowly ruining it, i think he is trying to re-write the books with his name on the cover, f1 by bernie.
          and he is doing a good job at turning it into a show not a race.

    • …because they enter with massive investment, drive up costs, and leave on a whim.

      Well, they certainly drived up costs, but revenues also. Small (?) point is when two guys, take half of the revenues and put it into their pockets, and start to tell the manufacturers how to manage their on strategy and business.

      My personal view on this is FOTA born too late, the damage to F1 was already done and I’m afraid it’s more to come.

      On the other side, some people is praising the return of “the Independents” as the solution.

      Well, I can hardly call them “independents” when they will be running a Formula full of technical restrictions and financed with Bernie’s money formula:” two plus two are not longer four, but five; five for me and minus one for you”.

      But what really amazed me much more is those people saying “Max was right”.

      Oh yeah! The thief giving some advice to the victims: “You will have to reduce costs for recovering what I’ve stolen you, my friend”

      Formula One have been seriously damaged and the New Concorde Agreement is just the same than giving a cancer patient an Aspirin to recover.

  7. We all knew this would happen when the Manufacturers came in – throw money at it, then realise it’s actually very difficult and money itself cannot gaurantee victory, then then pull out leaving much higher costs. I’m just glad the only ‘real’ privateer team left (Williams) is still here. Just.

    Shame for Kobayashi also. Maybe if Raikonnen doesnt sign for McLaren Whitmarsh will give him a try? Imagine the overtaking power of a McLaren with Ham & Kob :-)

    • Yes, but it’s been clear for a long time that you have to get the basics right. To a very great extent, the Japanese manaufacturers have never understood that. The only exception was Honda, who did eventually learn the hard way that you need three vital components.

      1. A top quality team leader who knows the sport inside out and usually has a proper engineering backgound ( Brawn, Gascoyne, Head, Symonds…interesting they’re all Brits isn’t it ? )

      2. Base operation in the right place, ie., where the best pool of really good engineers are based and all the myriad hi-tech support businesses are near at hand. ( Like er…… central-southern England ??? )

      3. Make damn sure that, basic budget considerations apart, the F1 team is completely autonomous and not subject to interference by the dead hands of senior management commitees.

      Even the very powerful German manaufacturers know that you go where the talent is.. and where are the current best engines in F1 made. In UK !

      Toyota never got any of that right. QED.

      • Maksutov said on 5th November 2009, 16:37

        Even the very powerful German manaufacturers know that you go where the talent is.. and where are the current best engines in F1 made. In UK !

        errr… I wouldn’t say that for Ferrari, even though it is not the current best engine but they were once upon a time.

        But you could rephrase that a little and say that Talent is where the money is. And for many of the teams the most appropriate place for that to occur is in the UK.

        If you are talking about best engineers and scientists and intelligence and talent in the world, well im afraid that is not only in the UK, but.. maybe read some engineering and scientific publications and you’ll find out? :) enjoy.

    • Harv's said on 5th November 2009, 9:21

      thats not tue AA, look at ferrari, from monaco 08 to monaco 09 it was reported that they spent over 600million pounds,

      and they are a team, who you can almost be certian that they will win something

  8. TeamOrders said on 4th November 2009, 11:35

    Ouch. Not good news. I hope Kobayashi is picked up by someone. Bye Bye Glock & Trulli.

    • bad_whippet said on 4th November 2009, 14:31

      Bye Bye Glock & Trulli

      Glock is reportedly going to Renault… why when there are better drivers available, I don’t know.

      As for ‘The Train’, can’t say I’ll miss him, especially after his ridiculous tantrum at Brazil (although quite funny) and the drivel he came out with at Abu Dhabi; “I’ve got pictures with me to prove it”…!!

  9. Benno said on 4th November 2009, 11:41

    Bet [mad]Max feels more vindication…

  10. DanThorn said on 4th November 2009, 11:43

    They wont be missed by me, they had no passion at all, just an expensive and fruitless advertising campaign run by arrogant businessmen with little interest in the sport who made a series of poor decisions. Their place on the grid is likely to be very quickly filled, hopefully by Sauber, but it’s a surprise Toyota didn’t do better to be honest – not only because of the funds and resources available, but because in the past they’ve had success in Rallying and Sports Cars.

    Lets hope Renault don’t leave too.

  11. Ned Flanders said on 4th November 2009, 11:46

    Toyota were such a mess of an F1 team anyway. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars on F1 and they couldn’t even muster a single win. I can count 10 teams who have won while Toyota have been in the sport, often on a fraction of the budget like Jordan and Toro Rosso.

    I found it significant that the team could never really find any fans in Japan, which is usually so patriotic that it supports all its teams and drivers. It shows how passionless, corporate and boring they are. I won’t miss them

  12. What a shame. Another bad reactionary decision in my opinion. I thought all the teams signed contracts to continue in F1? So can we expect the FIA to be waving contracts in teams faces and threatening fines? Surely Toyota must no that F1 is not an overnight success sport…

  13. ajokay said on 4th November 2009, 11:56

    Should Toyota and Sauber merge?

    I started a forum thread. You could do worse than a team with Ferrari engines and Sauber’s history, with a driver lineup of Quick Nick and Kamakaze Kobie.

    • NomadIndian said on 4th November 2009, 14:55

      yeah, sounds good!
      only I am not sure what exactly “merge” will mean in this case…

    • Wesley said on 4th November 2009, 18:33

      I was thinking the same thing about Heidfeld and Koby ajokay!One to charge through the field and one to bring in the steady points.

  14. Galchi said on 4th November 2009, 11:57

    Seems like Mosley was right…

    • James said on 4th November 2009, 13:57

      It was some unusually accurate thinking. Max himself declared the privateer days finished not long ago, telling Frank Williams his team had no future in F1. I wish I could find the bloody source!

      The problem in F1 are the losses. Too many sections of the sport are just bleeding money. Toyota could not continue, neither could Honda, or BMW. Williams operated at a loss since BMW left, and it almost finished them off – they would not have made it in 2009 were it not for Bernie & their subsequent hard work.

      Clearly, last Summer Mosley saw the writing on the wall. There’s still things that don’t make sense in F1; certain GP’s for instance, like Yas Marina are only possible in the La-La land of the Emirates states; there is no conceivable way they are making any money. How many other GPs are operating at a loss? I’ll bet most of them are. It’s silly.

      There was a telling story in the papers recently about Brawn’s troubles with staff, in that promised raises were not forthcoming; the most high-profile of which are Button’s stalled negotiations. Now, Ross Brawn is a pragmatist. I expect he’s happy to pay what the market will support. There’s a clue in there, and F1 needs to follow suit.

      • yes, and in Jackie Stewart’s most excellent autobiography ‘Winning is not enough’ he talks about how proud he was the Stewart Grand Prix always operated in the black and paid for it self.

        ‘For all it’s glamour and wealth, the reality ithin the F1 world was then, and remains now, that many individuals and companies are vulnerable and finacially fragile. Some of out staff joined SGP from F1 teams simply because they had complete confidence thath we would pay them at the end of each month; as everyone knew only too well, that didn’t always happen’.

        In Financial terms, the company made money in every single year and never, ever went into financial overdraft at the bank. If Pual an i were proud of our financial acheivements at PSR, this to us, was some event more exceptional. To have run an F1 team and to have stayed out of the red, and for the company not ton have any equity partners, that may well be unique.’

        Interrestingly upon selling SGPto ford, for which it was to become jaguar and then RBR, Jackie makes an insighful comment on incompetent coporate governance of an F1 team, even befor they have taken over.

        ‘The period of transition was not entirely stress-free. Ford personal began to hang around the pit during practice, shaking their heads.
        “unbelievable, unbelievable”, on of them kept muttering.
        “Excuse me”, i would say. “What is unbelievable?”
        “The way this team is being run is unbelievable”. And this from someone who knew nothing about the sport as far as i was concerned…..

        Someone once n oted Ford’s handling of Jaguar Racing was typical of a large multinational organisation trying to run a corner shop, and failing because succesive CEO’s simply did not appreciate the ins and outs of the business. It summed uo the increasingly disappointing situation quite well.’

        Sorry for the large quotes, but i felt as an 3 time WDC who setup a team from scratch, it was a goo insight into the financial stress of F1, and corporate governance of an F1 team. oh, and a must read IMHO.

        • Geoffrey said on 4th November 2009, 23:01

          Agreed. I actually started reading that book last week and it is a truly fascinating insight into the life of a true legend of the sport. Reading what he says about the GPDA with him and Graham Hill and Clark etc… what I would give to be a fly on the wall at one of those meetings…

        • James said on 5th November 2009, 9:08

          No apologies necessary. That book is awesome, and my admiration for JYS’ values is higher than ever.

    • Charlie said on 4th November 2009, 14:43

      Mosley, as everyone seems to have forgotten, courted the manufacturers and prevented privateers from joining F1 only a few years ago. That’s why the 50 million Euro bond for joining F1 was started.

      Then a few years later he’s all about “we need to reduce costs blah blah blah.”

      Hmm, yeah, that really worked out well there, didn’t it Max?

      “Max was right” is, unfortunately for the employees of the departed teams, completely wrong.

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 4th November 2009, 15:39

        I agree Charlie, Max invited the manufacturers in after all. But then he realised that they were not easy to push around, and that their continuance in F1 was dependent on corporate profits elsewhere, and he started to want the manufacturers out.

        • Scribe said on 4th November 2009, 20:40

          The thing is a lot of F1 probably wouldn;’t have to operate at a loss if all the money it generates wasn’t being sucked into some mysterious black hole. Especially the circuits. If CVC an Bernie wern’t there Silverstone would have been renovated years ago.

  15. Andrew White said on 4th November 2009, 11:57

    What’s the situation regarding their replacement? I thought the whole point of Qadbak was that they would replace any team that pulled out, but could Toyota ‘do a Honda’ and sell their team?

    • steph90 said on 4th November 2009, 12:04

      I think Toyota have the option of selling first (please someone feel free to correct me if I am wrong)

      • mp4-19b said on 4th November 2009, 12:44

        Honda’s history dates back to Tyrrell. They are a team based in Brackley. Dunno if Toyota are interested to sell their European base in Cologne to anyone. It seems highly unlikely.

        • Tyrrell was never based in Brackley, it operated from an old wood yard in Ockham, Surrey. The link between what is now Brawn and what used to be Tyrrell is pretty vague – BAR bought the team in 1997 but set up its own headquarters in Brackley, which is where Reynard (BAR’s technical partner) was based.

          Honda’s history as an F1 team goes back considerably further than BAR and Tyrrell.

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