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Toyota on way out of F1, BMW reflecting?
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Toyota on way out of F1, BMW reflecting?
Posted By:   |  24 May 2009   |  3:48 pm GMT  |  0 comments

This morning in Monaco there was plenty of activity around the ongoing discussions about the 2010 F1 rules and plenty of chat about what was going to happen next.

It seems to be becoming widely believed that Toyota will use this situation to make its exit from Formula 1. They were thinking about it towards the end of 2008, but there seems to be general belief among the other teams that they will go at the end of this year. BMW, which is having its worst season by far in F1, is also said to be reviewing it’s participation.

FIA president Max Mosley was making himself very available to the media and his message was that Ferrari will be staying in F1 “100% sure.” But the sport needs to fill the empty grid slots and that is the area a lot of work is going into.

It was being said that the teams and the FIA had kissed and made up and that it was all going to be sorted out by the May 29th deadline for entries, but team bosses I spoke to on the grid in Monaco sounded a not of caution. “Are you all loved up again?” I asked one, and he replied, “No, but we’re falling in love again.”

The teams say that they would like to start from the point of maintaining the 2009 regulations and go from there in terms of finding a communal way of regulating the costs down to a level around the £40 million Max Mosley wants the budget cap set at, perhaps by 2011. But by then the world will be out of recession, in all probability, and new opportunities will be out there to generate income for the teams.

Mosley, who is still determined to maintain the idea of a budget cap, said, “I can imagine we can take it through one year if possible [with the] higher figure and then go to the full cap in 2011, but that’s something under discussion. This is a possibility.”

“Ultimately, it’s going to have to be that sort of region,” he said. “Just imagine in today’s world, you go out to get sponsorship and you are just an ordinary team, so to raise 45 million Euros is a massive undertaking.

“Everybody can talk figures, well it ought to be this figure or that figure, but if a team cannot raise the money, then there is nothing they can do.”

Money is hard enough to find for the existing teams, look at the amount of sponsorship on the Brawn and they have won five races!!

It seems very hard to imagine new teams being able to raise the kind of money necessary to get into F1. But Mosley insists on new teams coming in, so discussions are centring around ways of helping new teams, with cheap engine and gearbox deals and a possible chassis lease package to allow them to run competitively at low cost to start with. It seems that the existing teams are saying that they would require the new teams to run rookie drivers on that basis.

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  1. Loti says:

    Interesting that all the assurances are coming from the FIA and not from FOTA. If the teams sign up to the new regulations as they are now then they deserve all they get. Giving the FIA the right to change the regulations as and when they like without consultation and also change the budget cap as and when they like is just asking for trouble.

    Clearly Williams, Brawn and Force India are going to sign, as Frank said ‘what else can we do?’ but the others?

  2. chris says:

    BMW are also having a tough time with the world touring cars series as well. If BMW were to leave, would the Sauber outfit be able to continue?. With the reduction in costs, Peter Sauber could come back into the fold and run a competitive team. Get some mercedes motors and they will be good to go.

    Toyota probably should jack it in and sell off their assets to the new entrants.

  3. MartinWR says:

    There seems to be a paradox here. On the one hand the fans are paying sky-high prices in order to see the F1 teams racing. On the other hand, many of the racing teams they go to see are hard put to find the money to run their businesses and pay for the cars and their development.

    There seems to be a strange disconnection between the two, the fans and the teams. Being a simple soul I can but wonder whether the money is leaking out somewhere before it can get to the people who actually provide the entertainment.

    Wonder where it ends up, if it isn’t financing the sport?

  4. Baktru says:

    Lovely to see Kimmi back on the podium…

    But with the points standiong as it is now? Button should be crowned champion at the end of the year now… This whole supremacy thing reminds me too much of the Ferrari supremacy a few years back :(

    I’d rather see a championship like last year where it’s all decided in the last race. Doubt we’ll get that this time around!

  5. Karl Philip Nilsson says:

    Great site. I have done one in swedish but your is better!

  6. Kris says:

    I just get the feeling that, with everything that went on with the diffuser and rules clearly not being sufficiently well defined, that the 2009 season will require an asterix next to it. I’m pleased for Brawn, pleased for Button and will be very pleased if Rubens manages to win a race but this is only happening because there wasn’t a stable and clear framework within which to compete. It is no wonder there is talk of teams leaving – regardless of the economic climate, the amount of money some of these teams pump into car development is way too much, regardless of who’s footing the bill, to do if the carpet is going to be whipped out from underneath half of the teams because rules are constantly changing and are ill-defined.

    Also, while everybody is talking about cost cutting, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding that the greater the stability in rules, etc, the more spending represents investment in the future and thus, controlling the overall amount spent. I shudder to think how much teams like Ferrari and BMW, who have basically developed two different cars for the season, have spent. That is not to mention those that have had to develop (and in some cases, then ditch) KERS or double diffusers. And yet, it seems that the majority that these teams have spent this year will be largely wasted if sweeping changes are introduced next year. Cars from one season to the next should evolve, not be fundamentally redesigned every season or two. Gives the sport and each championship a lot more credibility than what is currently going on.

  7. Warwick says:

    MartinWR: Good question. I would assume a good chunk of the spectator revenue goes into paying the enormous fees the circuits/promoters have to pay to host an F1 race? (I’m sure James could elaborate or correct me). I would venture a bet that spectator revenue actually plays a fair small part in overall F1 revenues.

  8. Sparhawk says:

    Baktru, actually I’d like to see a convincing champion for a change – like Jenson. About Toyota, maybe they should have worked with Williams, giving them money – Williams GP at least has won championships and races.
    About BMW, I guess that they will build a car for the DTM.

  9. Jonno says:

    A couple of years ago Prodrive were unable to get a team into F1 because they were going to use a chassis from McLaren. It would seem the rules are going to change to allow teams to create DIY entries.
    As to demanding DIY teams use rookie drivers – that’s plain barking, as none of them would ever be in a position to get beyond the back of the grid. If any team signs up to those restrictions, they’re living in cloud cockooland.

  10. sean says:

    I think the point around brawn is very pertinent.They are untouchable yet no sponosorship and none coming, branson having a nice cheap ride.And as you say 40mill is a huge amount but the largest spenders are about to leave ie:toyota&bmw.That could leave some big sponsors looking for cars.Im not overly impressed by some of these new teams, I watched isport struggle in gp2 if they think they can walk in to F1 and shake the tree I suggest they get gp2 sorted first.
    The one thing that has to be done is max has to step aside he has caused all of the issue’s and taken a simply disagreement to near war he has to be stopped

  11. Ged says:

    According to Autosport, the teams have written to Max demanding that the 2010 rules are scrapped and the 2009 ones kept, with some revisions to be agreed between them. Importantly this letter was signed by all the teams, which paints a picture someway removed from the one Max was portraying to the media yesterday evening.
    Supposedly the teams are willing to commit to F1 until 2012, in which case there’s no need to rail_road new teams in to the sport…. but then if 2-3 FOTA teams were to leave I fear Max would be all too happy for them to be replaced by 2-3 weaker and more influenceable teams. :(
    Maybe you should ask him outright James. ;)

  12. Adie says:

    RE: Brawn, what do you think the deal is there? Are they waiting for Virgin to stump up more cash for title sponsorship…or is money THAT hard to find?

    We hear noise coming from Nick Fry that there’s 25 people wanting to get involved, but the car is still worryingly bare…

  13. Jonathan says:

    I still believe the teams who (if) bow out will just use the FIA stance as an excuse when really they intend to leave anyway due to the current economic climate.

  14. Howard Hughes says:

    Forgive the hugely simplistic reduction of current F1, and correct me if I’m mistaken, but to my simple mind it appears that the sport’s comprising factors are:

    1) Teams
    2) Sponsors
    3) Fans – spectators & viewers
    4) Circuits
    5 TV networks
    6) Regulator
    7) Rights holder – CVC / Ecclestone-Bambino trusts etc

    Now, of these 7 elements, which two are NOT necessary to run a series? I would say 6) & 7). So whilst I’m in the minority of not hating Bernie, and in fact greatly respecting his skills, I’d have to say that while he’s dragged a once-amateurish sport kicking and screaming into the age of global dominance and resultant profits, he’s also sadly created a diminishing law of returns, whereby huge swathes of the revenues are being sucked into a debt vortex seemingly created in the first place to allow his family trusts to raise huge leverage in order to extract a massive dividend – which the sport is paying for now and for years to come.

    Thus you have various manufacturers and dedicated teams all stressing themselves to the limit year in and year out to play on a stage whose box office largely flows into the coffers of a finance company to repay their largesse to Bernie & Slavica a few years ago.

    This is preposterous. I mean am I the only person to see this as basically bloody RIDICULOUS?!!! I’m the furthest thing from a communist, but I fail to see why these teams are spending cumulative billions to mostly enrich others AND be subjugated to the constant whims of an egotistical and dictatorial federation president?

    I genuinely think that if they all sign up to race again under the current umbrella just to avoid the short term pain of having to create a breakaway series, they’ll look back in years to come and think, ‘damn, we could have had it all by now, if we’d only seen it through to the end…’

  15. Jonathan says:

    I find it amusing that people are complaining about this team having an advantage, that team having one set of rules etc etc, but this IS F1. In years gone by there is always at least 1 team (usually 2) who are untouchable by the rest of the field and nobody complains about it. The Brawn car is fractions better than the rest, but I can recall other years where one team ruled and was simply untouchable for most of the season:

    1987 Williams
    1988 McLaren 2 seconds faster than the field on occasion
    1989 McLaren (ditto)
    1990 Mclaren (not much different)
    1992 Williams (nobody complained then about unfair active suspension)
    1996 Williams
    1998 McLaren
    1999 Mclaren
    2001-2004 Ferrari

    Why is this year so different?
    GJ Brawn GP boys for making a better car.

  16. jed says:

    In racing, car brands have to associate their name with success. It is what they need for the image of their car brand. The worst thing for a car brand is being associated with losing or consistent under performing.

    Toyota has had a number of years in F1 and it seems like they have not achieved any of it’s goals. Their image in F1 are that of perennial losers. Spending even 1 dollar to have the image of a loser is not worthwhile for their brand.
    that is more of the reason why Toyota are considering exiting in F1.

    BMW is similarly situated. Their brand is losing prestige to mercedes. And the longer they stay in F1, the more their image will suffer.

    This current FOTA-FIA war is the best excuse for these teams to exit without publicly losing face by being branded as quitters unable to build a competitive car. This is the best opportunity for them to quit.

    Ferrari is a different story alltogether as they are selling cars to be in F1 and not using F1 as a marketing tool to sell cars. At least that’s how they started. In short they are a racing company, not a car company. This is what keeps their brand prestigious, win or lose.

    Renault has alonso and therefore still associated with a winner. Once they lose alonso and do not start winning again, they will quit too.

    I am of the opinion that manufacturers are starting to realize that their role in F1 are being engine suppliers. As long as they build the best engine the best team will want it on their car. If the car where their engine is bolted on is not successful, it is not necessarily the engines fault and less damaging to their image.

  17. DARREN says:

    good time the the once great name of team lotus to make a comeback,

  18. HpunslowBusGarage says:

    Absolutely agree, Jed. Racing is a vehicle (sorry!) for car branding. When the teams behind the brands win, it’s fine. But when the teams don’t win, the brand needs to disassociate itself. After all, that what Jaguar and Honda did.

  19. travelrat says:

    I think every sport I’ve ever participated in has been governed by a lot of old fuddie-duddies in blazers, who haven’t actually participated, if at all, since Adam was a lad.

    But, at least it was usually A LOT of fuddie-duddies on a Committee … so, how did, and when F1 get to a stage where ONE MAN can say ‘Let There Be …’ and there is?

  20. Chris says:

    I’m a little disappointed that FOTA did not offer more concessions such as funding for the new teams, for example.

    Perhaps FOTA are very, very confident.

    F1 certainly has been interesting off the track for the last few seasons, hasn’t it!

  21. Gord says:

    I think if BMW were to leave, they would sell off Sauber.

  22. Colster says:

    I’m pretty sure Peter Windsor confirmed on the Australian coverage of the Monaco Grand prix that USF1 has officially confirmed it’s entry for next year and that they secured Cosworth engines for 2010.

    James – have you caught up with Peter Windsor or was there any formal notification at Monaco?

  23. rpaco says:

    Not leaking, remaining in Bernie’s water tight pockets.
    As has been said before, it is likely that Bernie will try to use the budget cap to lessen the amount he pays out to the teams.

  24. Grabyrdy says:

    But of course it’s leaking out. And it’s all going to the merchant bankers who bought out Bernie a few years back. Funny how the FIA and the FOM seem to want to talk about all sorts of things, but the Ultimate Ripoff is off limits.

  25. Laurence H says:

    I think we all know the answer to that. It begins with ‘B’ and ends in ‘ernie Ecclestone’…

  26. Phil says:

    It goes to paying off the debt incurred when CVC did a leveraged buyout of the F1 rights. The pay something like 200 million a year in interest alone.

  27. Jonathan says:

    You are absolutely right there. I’ve always wondered why the FIA is all over the jteams to spend less money yet they do nothing about the FOM charging ridiculous prices to hold the races.

    Stupidity.

  28. Scott says:

    I completely agree! I thought the new regs were suppose to make for a more exciting season, I’m not seeing it so far.

  29. MartinWR says:

    Something’s gone wrong. Who mislaid the script?

    The championship has to be, must be, be decided at the last race. Else it won’t be Formula One.

    Ballast the Brawns. Sugar the fuel. Call in the stewards. Man the barricades.

    Armageddon is at hand.

  30. milkboy says:

    You have not seen exciting racing this season??? I sometimes despair. I admit Monaco today and Barcelona were not great races, but the rest were very very good.

  31. MartinWR says:

    Good point. But it must be extremely difficult to agree a sponsorship deal when no one has a clue what form the sport will take next year, and how much being involved in it is going to cost. That may well be a sticking point at the moment that’s holding up a deal. Very worrying. However if Brawn can’t get the financial support to soldier on, perish the thought, somehow I don’t think Jense would have too much trouble finding a seat in 2010.

    Branson wants all the publicity for peanuts, or at least for what passes as peanuts in the world of F1 finances. Cannot abide the guy. However if your looking for sponsorship I suppose you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it. He has certainly milked it for all it’s worth already, and apparently paid little for the privilege.

  32. rich says:

    except that Monaco uniquely does not pay anything to hold their F1 race

  33. MartinWR says:

    Bernie has certainly been instrumental in building Formula One into a mega-brand with a huge worldwide presence. It has become so big that governments of countries virtually beg to be let in on the act, and major car manufacturers have spent not merely millions, but billions, attempting to reach the top step. It has certainly made him rich beyond, probably, even his wildest dreams. It has also made a number of the top drivers very wealthy as well, with Schumy in the forefront, and the same is true for team principals. It’s not just big, it’s mega big.

    So it’s big and it’s incredibly wealthy. But is F1 better now than when it was dominated by privateer teams whose business was winning races, not selling cars? Has its aggrandisement been at the cost of undermining and profoundly distorting its financial foundation, and crippling its future development as a competitive sport? If the huge gulf in the available financial resources between a handful of wealthy teams and the rest continues, the racing is hardly going to spring too many surprises in the future. Without surprises where’s the interest?

    Is mega big really beautiful?

  34. James Allen says:

    Yes I spoke to him about it and he’s very excited. Campos also put an entry in. He put a deposit down on the Cossies some time ago

  35. jeremy says:

    Peter also mentioned to Geri Holloway they will have “two fantastic rookie Americans”

    James: any insight on these blokes?

  36. Lee Grant says:

    Excellent – it’ll be great to hear the Cosworths again!

  37. Dre says:

    TTE (Toyota motorsports GmbH) are a racing entity. They exist to race as much as Williams or Ferrari does. Before F1 they raced at LeMans and before LeMans they were the base of a 7 – time world rally championship campaign. If/when they leave F1, they will race somewhere else. Why do you think they would sell off their facilities that the have been building up since they fully bought out Ove Anderson’s team in 1987 (Which had begun racing Celica’s since 1972)? If I’m not mistaken, they also do rapid turn around product development and analysis.

    I think Toyota F1 will be around until at least through 2011. Especially if their new president has anything to say about it. Doubt that that they will leave without any wins or any championship (be it driver’s or constructors). Even after that, I think they will still supply engines to Williams (similar to Mercedes-McLaren).

    If anybody goes sooner, it will likely be Renault.

  38. James Allen says:

    He’s looking at a range of people, including Alex Rossi and Connor Daly for the future

  39. rpaco says:

    No it was “Halloway” she was with Bernie on the grid. The ginger team ;-)

  40. chris says:

    thanks for the information Dre, insightful. It’s a little bit optimistic to suggest they wouldn’t leave without a title. Bearing in mind their present huge resources, Toyota could loose out big time with the introduction of the cost caps.

    Can toyota trim their large infrastructure and be competitive versus a new entrant like USGP that can build organically?

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