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Toyota follow BMW, Honda and Bridgestone out of F1
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Toyota follow BMW, Honda and Bridgestone out of F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Nov 2009   |  12:44 pm GMT  |  62 comments

It has been a tough week for Japanese involvement in F1. Following on from Bridgestone’s announcement that they will withdraw at the end of 2010, Toyota have confirmed the news that many people have been expecting throughout the season; they are pulling out of F1 with immediate effect.

This opens up a place on the Formula 1 grid for the Sauber team, which BMW sold to Qadbak. As things stand there will be 13 teams next season, only three of whom are manufacturer backed. F1 has lost half its manufacturers within the last 12 months.

The balance within F1 will now change quite dramatically, as the influence of the manufacturers diminishes and more independent teams come through. Only Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari are left now. Mercedes are in the early stages of a shift away from McLaren and on to Brawn, making the new world champion team look a very strong package for the future.

Toyota’s withdrawal is no great surprise, despite recent claims from team boss John Howett that they would stay the course. The company is making huge losses as the global car market collapses and even this time last year a pullout was anticipated, but they were pre-empted by Honda. It had been suggested that a decision would be taken on November 15th, but the company’s president said this morning that the company would end its involvement, after eight seasons in which there were eight podiums but no wins.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said the decision was “unavoidable,”

“Since last year with the worsening economic climate, we have been struggling with the question of whether to continue in F1,” he said. “We are pulling out of Formula 1 completely. I offer my deepest apologies to Toyota’s many fans for not being able to achieve the results we had targeted.”

A few hours later Toyota issued a statement,
“TMC, which had viewed its participation in F1 as contributing to the prosperity of automotive culture, remained dedicated to competing at the pinnacle of motor sports, even in the face of the abrupt economic changes that started last year.

“However, when considering TMC’s motor-sports activities next year and beyond from a comprehensive mid-term viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1.”

Ironically the move comes as the cost of racing is coming right down, due to the Resource Restriction Agreement, a process Toyota played a part in. The team has spent billions over the last ten years during F1′s most expensive period ever. The teams’ budget was amongst the highest in the sport, with a contribution from Toyota of $300 million after sponsorship and TV money.

Even though the costs are coming down dramatically, this move shows that for a company to be seen to be spending money to go racing when factories are on reduced capacity is unacceptable. This begs the question about Renault’s ongoing involvement. The team finished 8th in the championship this year, it’s worst result since it returned to F1 in 2002 and it lost most of its sponsors after being convicted of race fixing. This is also making it hard for the team to find new sponsors. Renault has weathered the storm so far and decided to carry on in F1. But for how long?

Toyota’s move leaves Jarno Trulli and Kamui Kobayashi looking for a drive. Timo Glock is believed to have signed for Renault. Trulli is known to be on the shortlist of Mike Gascoyne at Lotus, but at this stage of his career would probably prefer to work with an existing team rather than a start-up. That said, it may be his only option. Kobayashi may well have done enough in his two races at the end of the season to get a break with another team. He put on a spirited performance and showed that he has the capacity to be a favourite with the fans.

It really is a buyers market for drivers at the moment, with many seats still open, but even more drivers looking for work.

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62 Comments
  1. Martin P says:

    James, given that Toyota signed the Concorde Agreement (unlike BMW), don’t they have the option of selling the team with a guaranteed slot on the grid rather than just “gifting” the place to “BMW”?

    1. James Allen says:

      They have to come up with a solution if they are to keep that place. But somehow I think that operation is a bit too big to sell. Wonder if John Howett will try a Ross Brawn-style management buy out?

      1. Martin P says:

        I hope he does. The sad alternative is many more hard working and talented people out of work.

        Sadly though it seems that Toyota’s survival in some form could well be at the expense of BMW employees.

        I have to admit, I can’t for the life of me understand why BMW didn’t sign the Concorde Agreement.

        To all those in any team affected by the cost reductions and pull-outs – I’m sure you have the sympathy, support and gratitude of many many fans for the spectacle you’ve helped create for us in seasons past.

  2. Luke Robbins says:

    Not a massive loss in terms of racing but im sure there are now a lot of good F1 minds without a job. With the continuing job losses as the teams cut down to size you have to feel for those who are out of work.

    The fact is that despite a massive budget Toyota just havent delivered the results that they should have.

    On the brighter side at least Sauber can now get back into F1, its a great F1 name and Peter Sauber has a good eye for future F1 talent. I guess Heidfeld may drive for him with a younger guy.

    Surely this means that Kimi is left with a simple choice of drive for mclaren or quit f1?

  3. Michael Grievson says:

    Looks like max was right about the manufacturers coming and going. Shame for the people who will lose their jobs though.

  4. pcm says:

    I agree. It’s definitely a buyers market, I guess this puts an end to any Raikkonen/Toyota rumours. Somehow I think this only complicates Kimi’s situation on the driver’s market.Surely, now with the abundance of talent out there, he has to accept a major pay-cut, no matter where he drives. Not that I’m suggesting that the available talent is as good as K.Raikkonen. Afterall, some of the free drivers are still unproven, but full of potential (like Kobayashi. But let’s assume that a team like McLaren is looking for either the strongest possible lineup, but this plan falls flat because the strongest possible guy is overpricing himself… Then they can hire the stronegest possible wing-man, a driver who will perfectly fulfill his role as #2 and bring in WCC points with consistent performances without really threatening Lewis’ WDC challenge. Just imagine, Lewis Hamilton leading and Jarno Trulli leading the “Trulli train” on 2nd place. As much as I love my fellow countryman Kimi, if I were Whitmarsh et al. I’d rather pay much less to obtain the services of Trulli or Kobayashi. Less price, a perfect #2 in either case, the other solid and stellar, the other a star of the future.

  5. 18is9 says:

    didn’t Max Mosley predict something like this…

  6. Nigel Smith says:

    James
    Which type manufacturer will want
    to supply the tyres for 2011?
    (Maybe the general economic outlook
    will have improved by then.)

    And I think Toyota had signed the
    new concorde agreement, but BMW
    had not, so how does that affect
    which team may get a grid slot
    next year?

  7. Jeremy says:

    I am not surprised Toyota have left, this was really the year they could have won races, especially in the first half of the season, but they blew it.

    Manufacturer teams come and go but thanks to the likes of Williams and McLaren F1 will go on. Up the Independents!

  8. ade says:

    James – I’ve read rumours that the Renault board are having an emergency meeting regarding their future involvement in F1. Have you heard anything to that effect and what do you think it would mean for F1 if they did leave?

  9. Tony says:

    Hi James,

    You say that the Toyota withdrawal leaves a grid spot open for the Sauber team to race next year but is this definitely the case?

    I thought toyota had signed the concorde agreement which means the team has a grid slot, if this is the case then surely if Toyota look to sell the team as a going concern then this grid slot will be a large and valuable asset.

    If Toyota sell the team, will the purchaser be entitiled to Toyata’s existing grid slop?

    Cheers
    Tony

  10. Michael says:

    If Toyota have signed the Concorde Agreement how does this play into things? I know that Sauber haven’t so could Toyota easily get out of this contract if Sauber were to take over their place?

  11. Michael Wilcox says:

    James – who do you anticipate replacing Bridgestone as tyre supplier to the teams? Any chance of Avon coming into the frame?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m hearing Yokahama might be a possibility. Pirelli have ruled themselves out

      1. Madhu says:

        James,

        Would Michelin come into the picture again?

        Also I am surprised why Bridgestone has pulled out? They where the sole supplier for the last 3 years. I remember in 2006/2007 they were supplying only 2 teams – Ferrari and Some other. They must have been doing some profits atleast?

  12. ian says:

    well, i still think having fewer ‘big manufacturer’ teams is going to make for a better grid – more focus on racing rather than product placement (hopefully)
    i still say, Toyota admitting theyre out is no real loss – the cars certainly wont be missed playing their part as mobile chicanes on race days
    wonder who will step into Bridgestone’s shoes for 2011 – maybe Bernie should have a word with Lego, they are the worlds biggest tyre manufacturer! :P

  13. Alistair Blevins says:

    James, why did Toyota fail so spectacularly?

    I get the impression they were never the most dynamic or exciting team and so never really captured the publics imagination, despite having deep pockets and long list of talent* passing through the doors.

    *excluding Ralf Schumacher.

  14. Robert McKay says:

    James, do you have any thoughts on

    (a) if Toyota will try and pass the team on or just close it all down
    (b) potential Bridgestone replacements?

  15. Are there any financial penalties attached to the withdrawal? Any news on Glock to Renault? As far as I can tell this leaves Kovaleinen in a pretty poor situation – McLaren clearly wants to get rid of him and he has to compete with Rosberg for a seat at Brawn.

  16. RichB says:

    If Ferrari are a ‘manufacturer’, McLaren will also soon be a ‘manufacturer’ in their own right.

    1. Stephen says:

      Not exactly. Although McLaren look set to expand their road car business, it hardly compares to Ferrari as a manufacturer, which is around 85% owned by FIAT, a mass-market road car manufacturer. That FIAT stake makes Ferrari a manufacturer team (albeit with an illustrious independent history) which is really very different from McLaren. The latter could have emerged as a manufacturer team had it been willing to sell more than a 40% stake to Mercedes. It’s probably fair to call McLaren a “semi-manufacturer” team at the moment, but the way things are going with Mercedes, it looks as if it might become a fully “independent” team again in the not so distant future.

  17. Inevitable bt none the less very sad to see this happen.

    How many ‘ordinary’ (mortgage paying) people will this impact on within the toyota set up? – will any of those find their way into one of the new teams?

  18. Paul Mc says:

    Another bad day for F1. I cant see Renault staying to be honest they will find it hard to recover from Crashgate and secure new sponsors etc.

    I hope Koby gets a drive id love to see him at McLaren!

  19. Silverstoned says:

    Surely Koby will get a drive with someone. I’m looking forward to him putting the fear of God into everyone, most especially those two in the red cars:
    that wing’s coming off with one bite of his bare teeth.

    Tragic if he’s out.

  20. Chris Brown says:

    James – why would Toyota not simply sell the team as a going concern to a new entrant? I would assume this would mean no grid slot for BMW Sauber as the new buyers of the Toyota team would be part of the Concorde agreement, keep the deposit involved etc. Also, wouldn’t this preserve the jobs of (some of) the team employees and so be better from a PR perspective (as well as a financial one)?

  21. Graeme says:

    James

    I wonder if Toyota were able to sign a big driver, if it would have saved the team….

  22. Betbotpro says:

    Hi James
    It really was on the cards i thought when they didnt have any drivers signed for next year and they let Glock go. I dont see renault continuing unless they can get major sponsorship.

    One question, can someone buy the Toyota team and keep them in the game and still deprive BMW sauber a place on the grid next year?

  23. martin_tf says:

    I’ve always wondered if the manufacturers should have stayed as engine makers and not team owners. I think Mercedes have been very sensible by supplying engines and only taking a medium stake in Mclaren.

  24. Spyros says:

    Well it’s a good thing Cosworth is coming in the sport, because with only 3 engine makers, we might have heard voices asking for FIA spec. engines.

    Let’s hope Renault stays.

  25. Barry says:

    I wonder if Bernie finally wakes up this time and realises F1 is too expensive for everyone. On the plus side we’ll get back to independant teams who only exist to race. Drivers might be allowed to have some personality again instead of being clamped by corporate shackles. All that’s left is to got rid of the desert tracks and bring back more European classics and things will be looking up!

  26. Charlie F1 says:

    Hi James, I just ordered your book, thought it would be an ideal Christmas read (and I figured I owe you one after your betting advice earlier in the year). I was wondering, as Toyota have pulled out does that automatically give their grid slot to Sauber qadbak? Toyota signed the new concorde agreement does that not mean if they sell up they sell their slot too?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure they intend to sell. I believe Qadbak will get the place, if they are out, yes.

  27. Adrian (not Sutil..!!) says:

    James,

    Would Toyota still have the option of selling the team and if so would the buyers be guaranteed a place on the 2010 grid given that Toyota had already signed the Concorde Agreement?

    Also, given that Renault went out of their way to comply with the FiA over the whole Crashgate affair, do you realistically think they are going to pull the plug? I know a lot of people at the time thought that their actions were a sign that they were committed to the future when they could easily have used Crashgate as a reason to pull out…

  28. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    You cannot blame them for this decision after such a fruitless adventure. Billions of dollars and no wins…there are no excuses and the blame should be left at Howett’s door.

    I imagine that Japanese management were detached from the realities of running an F1 team and their principal line of communication was Howett….and that’s how he got away with running the team for so long. He knew how to manage the Japanese but not the F1 team.

    He was not big enough to hire someone more capable than himself to run the team, as Nick Fry did with Ross Brawn.

    Toyota have pi**ed away their money on F1 and should be very upset with the team management.

    Very upsetting news and even more so after they found a star in Koyabashi.

    1. Drez says:

      “should be very upset with the team management”…

      I would suggest that the corporate suits in Japan should be upset/ashamed of themselves. They should have let the racing culture under Ove and Gascoyne flurish not force retirement on one and sack the other.

      At least Howett is likely to hang onto his paymasters coat tails and vanish from the F1 scene. Always a silver lining.

  29. montonnik says:

    Very sad, particularly as Kobayashi was generating so much interest. But, ultimately not a huge surprise.

    It just goes to show that Max Moseley was right about the need to bring in more private teams. Wihtout the new teams joining it would be a greatly depleted grid.

  30. Lee says:

    Hi James,

    I must admit I feel rather betrayed by the big teams FOTA. Like all F1 fans I hated the way in which the political fighting in the summer consumed the sport and was glad to see it resolved. Now the teams who fought so hard to avoid the budget cap are running away. I used to think big manufacturers added more credibility to F1, now I would be quite happy to watch only privateer teams who are just there to race and leave the FIA make the rules. Six months ago I would never have thought that!

  31. philipb says:

    I think that budget cuts are a convenient excuse for companies like Toyota & BMW to recluse themselves from the circus that Bernie’s F1 has become. Large multi-nationals spend much more than an annual F1 budget carefully crafting and honing their public image. The recent scandals around F1, starting with Max’s en flagrante and continuing through various cheating scandals, FOTA breakaways and the general cloak & dagger games of the sport has not created the kind of atmosphere that a careful corporation can risk involvement in.

    I would imagine it was an easy decision for Toyota, we can save $500M and avoid risks to our image at the same time. BMW had just reached the same conclusion earlier.

    1. Drez says:

      Banned from WRC and running with a Ferrari clone F1 car… Toyota are not squeaky clean. Although that probably gave them a ‘edge’ as opposed to boring corporate.

      Come to that the German car manufacturers have had their fair share of bribery and prostitution scandles, especially in South America. The finger pointing at Max & co in this case is ridiculas.

      1. Formula says:

        Hey, how about McLaren being banned from an F1 season for cheating, Honda being caught cheating before and being banned from races. Ferrari and Renault also have been caught cheating plenty of times before.

        Enough spotlight on Toyota, let’s talk about the REAL cheaters in motorsport.

  32. michael says:

    None of these manufacture backed teams spent enough time and energy in the commercial area of the sport to raise capital and defer the cost of the racing. Having only one key sponsor (toyota-panasonic, bmw sauber-petronas, honda-????) always left the auto makers with heavy bills. How could they believe that it could be sustained? Even Ferrari has always set the example with huge sponsors and Mclaren even with Mercedes as a partner were not waiting for cheques from Germany. It’s too bad but the reality is it had to happen, not every team can win every year.

  33. DK says:

    I hope Kobayashi get a drive next year and stay in F1. It will be tough competing with those who carry personal sponsorship for a drive seat, I think.

    James,
    if Toyota find a buyer to take over the F1 team, will the “new team” remain in the concorde agreement? Is Sauber promoted automatically to next year’s grid following Toyota’s announcement to quit, or they still have to wait?

    Thanks.

  34. Rudy Pyatt says:

    And so it becomes official. But I have NO problem with this. At all. It just makes sense. F1 doesn’t. People criticize the factories for coming in and out, but the fact is, Bernie and Max brought them in, knowing full well (and there’s no way they didn’t) that marketing campaigns change all the time. Commercials, print ads, radio, online. Companies launch new campaigns and change old ones all the time.

    And that’s all this is. A change in marketing campaign. For any car company to be in F1 at all is a simply prestige marketing, no different from bling watches, or expensive wines, or the latest gee whiz electronic gadget . That’s all it is.

    Notwithstanding the pretense to the contrary (Honda: “We train our engineers here”), F1 long ago lost its road car relevance. To say it again, sports car racing, of all kinds, simply makes more sense, from both marketing and R&D perspectives.

    Renault will be next, as they should be.

    Sauber will come off the bench, Qadbak mystery or not. But it looks like Max will have to get his old chums and restart March. Cars will be needed.

    Spending on an F1 team, on F1 AT ALL, is questionable for any manufacturer. F1 is, and will remain, even with the cuts etc, hideously expensive. That kind of money needs to go into the core business.

  35. F1 Kitteh says:

    Would like to see how Trulli goes in NASCAR test .. they go around like a train anyway so I’m guessing his skills are applicable! James, do you think its merely a for fun thing or is there something more serious behind it?

  36. q1 says:

    And Max was right all along.

    1. krad says:

      Not that it was a hard call to make it was always a certainty, just a matter of when. The only manufacturer who I would ever bet on not is leaving Ferrari as its so core to their brand. However even that looked shaky this year even if it was all bluff

    2. Pay The Piper says:

      No, Mosley said ‘reduce costs or teams will leave’, costs were reduced, teams are leaving, therefore he was, as per usual, wrong.

      Teams have always come and gone, how many teams from the fifties or sixties are still racing? All those teams are gone, replaced by others who have also gone (including March), and most of the current teams will probably go, to be replaced by teams that don’t yet exist. That is the natural, inevitable, order of things.

      The main problem, apart from an eye-watering corporate balance-sheet, was a complete and utter abject ontrack failure … Toyota were losers, and were punished, winners never quit and quitters never win … this again is the natural order, we do not reward failure. If they had somehow conspired to win an odd race, or at least look a bit like it, instead of repeatedly deceiving the board and wilfully burning billions of dollars, their fate might have been somewhat different, perhaps.

      The constriction will see smaller teams racing, and when the economics change, we will see teams get bigger again, until the next contraction. Teams spend precisely as much money as they can source, not more and certainly not less, there is a natural ebb and flow at work here, it is the changing of tides, that is all we are witnessing.

      Mosely is an old-fashioned early-20th century authoritarian, who thinks the free-market can be controlled, he is wrong, he is always wrong.

      1. Neil Williams says:

        Excellent post

  37. Martin says:

    They won’t be missed. The bad taste from their systemic cheating in rallying back in 1995 still lingers to this day.

    1. Formula says:

      Not as bad as the taste the McLaren/Ferrari F1 scandal left.

      Whether you like it or not, before 1995 Toyota were a distinguished championship team in WRC. Deal with it.

  38. Mav says:

    Brilliant.

    Back to the good old days with a few manufacturers and a bunch of independents that are there to race and race only – none of the terribly distasteful corporate crap extending form one end of the pitlane to another.

    Now come on Williams… get yer arses in gear!

  39. Bo Amato says:

    Frankly they won’t be missed. Let Sauber back in the field. Get Cosworth Engines in all the car’s and have some racing where the drivers make a significant difference versus the machine that they drive.

    Lower the down force, get those silly front wings off the cars. Put nice HARD big (wooden) tyers on the rear of the car.

    Make it a driver sport please!!!!

  40. Peter says:

    Car manufacturers need time to sort out their core business and once they have found their new directions and the racing is greener there is a good chance they come back. However that will take a few years. I still believe we need big brand names in a business like F1. In the meantime it will be fun to see newcomers, but I expect small teams come and go more often than manufacturers have done so.

  41. Adam says:

    Just like the other two works teams, Toyota cites financial pressure as the driving force behind its withdrawal. But the truth is that Toyota is quitting because they’re rubbish. It was the same story for Honda and ditto for BMW.

    How come we don’t see this in other sports? We don’t see Blackburn Rovers closing up shop, even though they don’t have a hope in hell of doing well in the premiership.

  42. Victor from Hong Kong says:

    I do sincerely hope Kobayashi will find a seat for 2010. It’s such a pleasure to see him racing and in particular against Button from the last two race.

  43. Glen says:

    If I remember correctly the rules in the late nighties and early noughties started to deter interested smaller teams from entering F1. These rules included the 107% qualifying rule and an entrance fee bond thing for a new team, which was a figure around £50million.

    Since this time the manufacturers have dominated the best results by pouring many millions into their teams and as a result killing off the likes of Pacific, Forti, Tyrell (Which I think is the foundation of the Brawn team), Lola, Arrows, Jordan and Minardi. The very type of teams the FIA now want to encourage back into the sport.

    1. Glen says:

      I mean the nineties not sexy nighties.

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      YES!! YES! Thank you, thank you, brilliant spot-on post: Dead right. Totally shows the hypocrisy of the Mosely Theorem (“independents are the life of the sport”) and the ultimate ethical and financial bankruptcy of the Ecclestone Business Model (“Let’s Monaco everything”). They wanted the glamour and “respectability” that the factory bankrolls could provide.

      Now they reap the whirlwind…

  44. Jason says:

    Did the cancellation of Williams’ engine contract with Toyota have any influence on this decision?

  45. Mr G says:

    As I have been blogging for the last 2-3 weeks Toyota pulling out of F1 is nit a surprise at all.
    The manufacturer interested in F1 are the ones that produce high performance cars and Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren do, Renault doesn’t.
    Toyota, BMW have been in F1 when selling cars was making money because the market conditions, anyone was able to borrow money to change cars every 3-4 years.
    Now, what is the point for Toyota or BMW do be in F1?
    Will they sell more Yaris, Aygo or 3 or 5 series?
    They won’t and F1 for them is not commercially vaible.
    On the other hand, will the F1 fan aspire to buy one of their cars? I don’t think so.
    So commercially is not an option.
    Will the marketing men able to change the directors mind when they see red at the bottom right of the balance sheets ? I don’t think so again !!!!
    Therefore the grid will only see the manufacturer that will produce high performance cars, indipendent that will run F1 as a viable model and teams like Red Bull that will use F1 and other sports to advertise for their product.
    Bridgestone leaving F1 is not a surprise at all.
    Since they took all F1 supplies they haven’t be very agressive in other sports such as WRC, Moto GP and Paris Dakar.
    Michelin and Pirellie especially they have gain a lot of credit in sports were the consumer is closer to the product, noone will buy a F1 tyre for any road cars.

    Overall I can see F1 becoming more and more what it used to be in the 80′s, but I think the indipendent teams will push to find something that they will be able to use and sell to the road car manufacturer, for example Williams.

    What everybody thinks ?

  46. Steve says:

    A shame, only because Koby added a great deal in just two races. Fearless like Sato but more accurate from the few moments we saw. I hope he drives next year. I’d love to see him in a Macca but can’t imagine it.

    James, where do you see him landing?

  47. Tim L says:

    Max M got his way on this one….he wanted them out and achieved it.

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