Toyota exits F1

In a move that comes as a surprise if not a shock, Toyota have announced that they will not be returning to the F1 grid for the 2010 season.

After posting its largest ever financial loss, the world’s largest car manufacturer will now concentrate on its resources to turnaround the performance of its core business. Toyota president Akio Toyoda said the Japanese team had no option but to withdraw from F1 citing “the current severe economic realities” which had hit Toyota’s businesses hard.

Formula 1 was reputed to be costing Toyota €15.8m per grand prix, which is a lot of money in anyone’s book.

After taking part in 139 F1 races the team failed to win, but managed to achieve fifth place in the 2009 constructors’ championship. After 7 years enough was enough, which will come as a great disappointment for Kamui Kobayashi who was all set to land a full-time drive for Toyota after impressing in the final two races of the season.

Toyota join Honda who withdrew from F1 at the end of last season, and BMW who also made 2009 their last season but this could represent good news for Sauber who received support from after Swiss-based Qadbak Investments following BMW’s withdrawal in July. At the time the FIA offered Sauber the ‘first reserve’ position for the 2010 season, so this news should add an end-of-season cheer to the folks in Hinwil.

Toyota’s withdrawal from F1 marks a period of change for Japanese companies in motorsport – Subaru and Suzuki exited the world rally Championship in 2008 and Kawasaki from Moto GP, then with Honda and now Toyota we may be witnessing a turnaround in the ‘perceived sportiness’ of these Japanese brands.