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. Alex Cooper said on 4th November 2009, 13:22

    A big part of Toyota’s problem, assuming they do try to sell the team, is their location in Cologne. I’m told that running a workforce in union-led Germany has it’s own challenges – as seen during the team’s enforced two-week break over the summer.

    I’d be surprised if Renault left right now. They were let off pretty lightly by the sport for ‘crash-gate’ and a part of that was in the hope they’d stay. It would be a bit of a kick in the sport’s nuts to leave at this stage and would damage their standing in world motorsport further (bearing in mind that they provide for GP2).

  2. I’m not surprised to hear about this, because it does seem a reasonable decision under the circumstances.

    The potential of selling the team could be a challenge, but theoretically, for an investor from the Germany, Beligum, Netherlands kind of area, having a team stationed in Cologne could be something worth thinking about.

    There might still be a chance for the team to take up some other racing project, though, for example a Le Mans comeback that has been in the rumor mill just as long as the “might they quit Grand Prix racing” story.

    Otherwise, this might actually be a piece of positive news for the former Sauber team.

  3. flossyblossy said on 4th November 2009, 13:49

    I am absolutely gutted for Kobayashi!! after his 2 races he is definitely my new fave driver and was really excited about seeing how he did next year (actually the same i felt about Glock after 2008 season!) I feel sure he’ll get a drive as seems to be a great driver with a bit of ‘spirit’ – something that has been seriousley lacking in a fair number of drivers this season. I would LOVE McLaren to snap him up instead of Kimi!

  4. Prisoner Monkeys said on 4th November 2009, 14:02

    Great article, Keith. The perfect lead-in for the guest article I just submitted.

    However, I disagree with the notion Renault will withdraw entirely. Red Bull are looking to use their engines for 2010, and I do believe they have a contrat. If Renault back out, I think they’ll stay on as an engine supplier.

  5. Just when i thought Kobayashi was going to surprise us next year :( Really hope he gets the drive.
    The idea of a racing driver that did that well and if can’t get a drive goes help is father at his restaurant takes “privateer” to a whole new level..

  6. Looks like We now understand what Max Mosley was upto….

    Smart of Kimi not to negotiate with Toyota. :)

  7. Oh please,Stop this Koba BS,do you know how many test laps he’s put on that Toyota,compare to the kid in the Rossi or the guy in that Renault.

    • Maciek said on 4th November 2009, 16:51

      How many test laps did he put in? When?

    • shyguy2008 said on 4th November 2009, 18:38

      koba drove better than buemi has done and buemi got a fair bit of driving the 2008 car before the season.

    • Patrickl said on 4th November 2009, 19:05

      Indeed.

      Also, Nakajima was 10th in his first race (substituting for Wurz) and 6th in the next one. Does that remind anyone of another Japanese driver?

      Now people can’t wait to trash Nakajima and Kobyashi is the new hero.

      The old adagio: “you are as good as your last race” is running wild again.

      • Maciek said on 4th November 2009, 23:23

        What difference does their nationality make? I’ve no clue why people keep bringing up Nakajima in comparison. Those race positions are called coincidences – no rational connection. If you a see one mediocre British driver, will keep bringing him up when the next British rookie comes on the scene?

        I think that all you Kobayashi bashers are just frustrated because a rookie showed Jenson up two races in a row.

  8. SaloolaS said on 4th November 2009, 15:59

    My favorite team out of f1, that’s too bad :(

  9. Lance Osborne said on 4th November 2009, 16:12

    Why not consolidate and focus on supplying engines for a couple of years? You still stay involved in the sport, still get worldwide F1 exposure? Hasn’t anyone learned from MB’s example?

  10. So now we have our 3rd manufacture Pull out. Leaving Ferrari, Renault owing teams. Mercedes and Cosworth as engine suppliers. We may get to a point where everyone is a team and the manufactrues are just enfine suppliers (execpt for Ferrari).

  11. 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?

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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)

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