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?

Images ?é?® Toyota

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185 comments on Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

  1. lionfan99 said on 4th November 2009, 16:56

    Be careful what you wish for. Privateer teams are even more susceptible to short term financial pressures. Do you really want a situation where you do not know which teams are going to show up for the race every weekend?

  2. antonyob said on 4th November 2009, 17:23

    Glad Howetts gone, what a ghastly oik he was. Heres my crap car. Right i want more money, more power or we’re off to form a rival series

  3. steph90 said on 4th November 2009, 17:50

    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. 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?

    From Ferraris website http://www.ferrari.com/English/News/Pages/091104_F1_We_want_a_different.aspx

    • F1Yankee said on 4th November 2009, 18:24

      never mind the lousy translation, what a strange thing for a multi-billion dollar company to say.

      • Yes…do we hear the sound of axes being ground/ old scores being settled ? Don’t think there’s ever been a more highly tendentious/politicised figure in F1 than Senor di Montezemolo. Every word he ever speaks is always loaded with political posturing. And we must never forget that he always speaks for the mighty Fiat empire of which Ferrari is just a small but significant part. ie ….what’s good for Fiat/Ferrari must be good for F1…or else !

    • Patrickl said on 4th November 2009, 19:09

      That’s probably the same idiotic editor who wrote the GP3 nonsense and the attack on Williams.

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

        I often wondered if it was just some weirdo with access to the content management system or whether it was real, Ferrari Approved comment.

  4. Let’s see, 7 years at roughly $500M per sounds like a $3.5 billion dollar investment. Anyone care to do the math and calculate the cost per points they won??

    Devastating. As for Mfg involvement and Renault leaving, I don’t think they would announce Kubica and then cancel their season. But if they left, it would mark a wholesale return to the roots of F1, entrepreneurs who care about the sport and are independent of “factory” commitments. Kick out Mercedes while were reinventing the face of the sport and let’s start from scratch.

    In hindsight the fact that Glock and Trulli were both looking for drives tells me that they were given the message that the future here is uncertain, look elsewhere for a racing seat.

    • James G said on 4th November 2009, 19:59

      Assuming a total spend of 3.5 billion, Toyota paid:

      $12,797,074.95 per point

      $25,179,856.12 per race

      $269,230,769.23 per podium

    • I see no reason why you would want to kick out Mercedes, as although they own part of McLaren and are looking to purchase a stake in Brawn, their model is closer to the traditional engine supply role of the manufacturer rather than running the whole team.

      While Trulli and Glock may been told in private what may happen, when it was announced earlier this year that Toyota’s F1 budget would not be approved until mid November, I think one of the bosses at Toyota publically said Trulli and Glock should look for drives elsewhere as Toyota wouldn’t be able to decide on it’s drivers until then. Also if Toyota had decided not to quit I don’t think they would have kept both drivers.

  5. Actually its too bad. However, this is what you get in a global recession. Manufacturers are responsible to their board of directors and ultimately the shareholders rather than FIA, FOM or even a sporting fan base. Is Renault next? Yeah, I think the Reggie is on the way out. Leaving Ferrari. Mercedes as an engine manufacturer and supplier but that doesn’t begin to match the investment needed to do an entire team. We will be back to the “garagistas” as Enzo used to say. Can someone clarify for me please? I do believe that I read somewhere that either Bernie or Mosley predicted the withdrawal of the manufacturers. (Maybe it was Frank Williams! lol)

  6. shyguy2008 said on 4th November 2009, 18:40

    at this rate we’ll be back to 10 teams before we know it

  7. Renault have no sponsors,no ‘superstar’ drivers,and a serious lack of credibilty still hanging over their name.The writing is on the wall.

    • DomPrez said on 4th November 2009, 19:19

      Kubica isnt a superstar? honestly?

      anyway, i was considering where Kamui may end up, and since he came through FormulaRenault, i thought that was his best chance at a race seat next year. I think he’d be a great pairing for Kubica. In fact, just as good as a Vet/Web or a But/Ros.

  8. As long as F1 races at places like Abu Dhabi and not America why would any manufacturer stay in?

    ‘It’s the markets stupid’

    A sad day indeed.

  9. Kubica isnt a superstar? honestly?

    Honestly! Unless you also think that Heidfeld is a ‘superstar’?

    But that will not matter one jot to the ‘number crunchers’ of your average motor manufacturer anyway.

  10. Remco said on 4th November 2009, 19:38

    I’ve just heard that Renault is reconsidering their F1 entry. There was an emergency board meeting today in Paris. Subject; The team’s future in F1…..

    • Remco said on 4th November 2009, 20:24

      There were 3 options discussed during the meeting today;
      1. Stay as a team
      2. Stay as an engine supplier
      3. Quit F1

      No outcome is known at the moment….

      • steph90 said on 4th November 2009, 21:22

        I’m thinking maybe outcome 2. I’m hoping outcome 1.
        With regards to Toyota I think if they ever got their win it would have delayed this not saved them. Maybe a win would have gave them more momemtum to carry on form but that’s still a long way off seriously challenging for a title. Their best year was this year with the big teams at the back and things started so promisingly…

  11. Brendan said on 4th November 2009, 20:26

    So if it’s true that Toyota would only remain in F1 if it won a race, and you believe Pascal Vasselon about Spa,

    However, he believes that an unprecedented chain of events at the Belgian grand prix – when front-row qualifier Jarno Trulli hit Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber and broke his front wing – was the main reason for this.

    “That race was my biggest frustration, because Spa was for us,” he added. “Jarno was the fastest there and we should have won.

    By crashing into a BMW Sauber in Spa, Toyota took themselves out of contention for the win, leading to their exit from F1, and opening a grid slot for Sauber to come back next year. Spooky!

  12. Toby Bushby said on 4th November 2009, 22:41

    Very sad news about Toyota. They at least had the cajones to start a team from scratch, even if it hasn’t paid dividends. Unfortunately, not the smartest move, it seems.

    And so the Manufacturer’s depart again, advertising mileage achieved, if not on-track success. I’m rather tempted to say “good riddance”, but the fact is that they leave a gaping hole in the sport – one which shouldn’t exist. Thanks to Blarney and Sadomax (aka B&S), all we’re left with is some slapped together teams, some mainly existing as leverage for Mosley, one (hopefully) genuine team in USF1, and another Marketing Team calling itself Lotus (but really Malaysia Tourism) entering the sport.

    This is a great shame for the Minardi’s, Super Aguri’s, Arrows’ and Sauber’s of this world (run well or not), and a great shame for the F1 – and it ain’t over yet. Does anyone think that Red Bull can still look at itself and say it’s worth running two teams when all other Marketing Teams are running for the door? We’ll see soon, I expect….

  13. antonyob said on 4th November 2009, 23:12

    Maybe he should sing “your only as good as your last race” Patrickl, unless you meant adage rather than adagio? ;)

    As the much despised (not by me) Max Moseley said about 3 years ago when he was fighting off another mutiny by jonny come lately mass production car middle managements:- “the manufacturers will be here for as long as it suits them and then they will go.” Well he is right of course and i will be glad when every last one has gone. People like Howett make my blood curdle, all righteous indignation but cant build a decent car given an absolutely obscene amount of money…and they had the cheek to want more HA! Take Renault with you and dont come back.

    And to extend the argument, Red Bull will pull out the moment things get tricky in their core business. Yes they have done far more for the sport than Toyota could dream of and can win races but be under no illusion that they will not hesitate to jump….which would be a shame.

    • F1Yankee said on 5th November 2009, 6:16

      if you think that’s bad, what do you think flavio put in his pockets?

      i think red bull will stay for a while, but not str. with a 2009 season to be very proud of, red bull isn’t going to run away to it’s skateboards and rocket-powered whatevers.

  14. Xanathos said on 4th November 2009, 23:40

    I doubt that the demotion to the back of the grid at Melbourne played any part in this decision. The mediocre middle part of the season might have played more of a part in this.

    However, I’m glad that F1 is back to its roots. It is just sad that Kobayashi might not get a seat next year, no one is really going to miss Toyota. The age of manufacturers is coming to an end, and sanity is returning to F1.

  15. nelore said on 4th November 2009, 23:46

    I thought Toyota was a sausage making operation; Spend $ 500 mil/year, travel the world, crank out an ugly car every year, keep everyone employed in Cologne,look busy when the japanese comes around, have a nice travel coach, never win a damn thing;oh and everyone follows this fellow Trulli around the track until he crashes(he always does) or the car breaks down, which brings me to the sausage making operation back in germany…. start all over again.

    • mp4-19b said on 5th November 2009, 9:12

      The least they could have done was to go out with some flavour. They should have changed their stupid livery at least once, like what Honda did in 07. People remember such strange liveries. 25 years down the lane no one will remember Toyota even raced in F1.

  16. Choltz said on 5th November 2009, 1:17

    Great news!! Now a real team (Sauber) can get a slot. Toyota proves that you need passion, not business savvy and morons on a board to survive in F1. People who by that Lexus LFA get the failure that is Toyota! :P

  17. Vincent said on 5th November 2009, 3:01

    Goodbye Toyota. I hope they come back in few years time.

  18. The Limit said on 5th November 2009, 3:12

    The one crumb of comfort for Renault is the fact that their engines are still in high demand, and were a proven success in the hands of Red Bull in 2009. At the beginning of the season, the omens were not good for the team, having to change the nose of the car following a crash test failure in testing. The car looked horrible long before it got to race in Melbourne, and was even widely condemned as the worst looking of the 2009 spec cars on this very site.
    As for the team themselves, the constant rumours surrounding Fernando Alonso’s future plus the debacle with Piquet Jnr surely critically holed the teams spirit during such difficult times. One has always got to ask the question, that if Renault was such a happy ship, why did Alonso leave in the first place back in 2006?
    As for not having a star driver, I believe they have a very promising prospect in Robert Kubica. The guy has endured a terrible two years with BMW Sauber, and is hungry for a chance to prove himself. All the better, I would suspect, to have a driver in the car grateful of the drive as opposed to a driver measuring up for some shiny new red overalls.
    As for the remnants of Toyota, Kobayashi is definately a driver who stands a very good chance of a drive next season. Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are experienced, but the trend in F1 at the moment is to sign young blood as opposed to veterans. Personally, I hope somebody buys up the scraps of Toyota F1 and does a better job than the Japanese mark. As unlikely as that seems.

    • Choltz said on 5th November 2009, 6:20

      high demand? If there were no limits Renault would have no demand, an engine that sucked before they were allowed to catch up in 2009, and then blew up in 2009. No wonder everyone wanted a Merc engine.. No one wants a Renault engine… some are just stuck with the crap.

      • mp4-19b said on 5th November 2009, 8:37

        Choltz, you know what? Renault engines were a class of the field from 92-97. Total domination. Mercedes sucked for a long time, remember those day when they coughed up every few feet? Now after all these years they somehow find reliability & decide to jump ship. And I completely agree that manufacturers instead of completely pulling the plug should stay back to supply engines.

        MESSAGE TO TODT OR MAX OR WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE OF THE FIA

        LIFT THAT EFFING RULE ON ENGINE FREEZE!!!!

  19. Brian said on 5th November 2009, 3:12

    Toyota F1, may she R.I.P

    However, Koby will get a seat somewhere. I think Toro Rosso should dump ALG and take KOB.

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