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The buck's got to stop somewhere. Toyota has been pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars into its Formula One racing program for seven years now and has little to show for it. Now after both Honda and BMW have mothballed their F1 teams, Toyota has confirmed longstanding speculation by doing the same.

The announcement was not expected for another few days, but with rumors persisting, the Japanese automaker appears to have moved things forward with a press conference held by Akio Toyoda. The president of the Toyota Motor Corporation expressed his gratitude to the team and offered his apologies to those affected by the decision, but revealed that the company could no longer justify supporting the program.

Among the hundreds of personnel the move now leaves stranded, the three racing drivers which the team fielded this season – Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli and Kamui Kobayashi – will now be looking for new race seats with other teams, the latter facing the difficult prospect (despite his impressive performance) of finding a drive without the patronage of a Japanese company, of which exactly zero remain following the departure of Toyota, Honda and Bridgestone. Meanwhile, the team's withdrawal leaves an open slot on the grid next season, potentially to be filled by a BMW-less Sauber team. And with all the resources Toyota has poured into the team, it would not be unrealistic to expect another outfit to step in and acquire its extensive racing operations based in Cologne, Germany.

Follow the jump to read the press release and the full statement from Akio Toyoda.

[Source: Toyota | Image: Mark Thompson/Getty]


Toyota to Withdraw from F1

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces it plans to withdraw from the FIA Formula One World Championship (F1) at the end of the 2009 season.

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 midterm viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1.

TMC leaves F1 having compiled 13 podium and 87 point finishes over eight challenging seasons since 2002 with Panasonic Toyota Racing, a full-constructor team. It views its time in F1 - in which teams put forth their best efforts to fiercely compete at racing's highest level - as an irreplaceable experience that provided an opportunity to develop both human resources and its R&D operations. TMC expresses its deepest appreciation to its F1 fans and others for their warm support.

TMC also wants to express its heartfelt gratitude to all Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers to date and to all Toyota Motorsport GmbH employees who have helped make the team's achievements possible. TMC intends to do its best to find a solution for those parties who will be affected by any inconvenience this decision may cause.

Drawing on its experience in F1 and other motor sports, TMC intends to move forward in developing exciting production vehicles, such as the Lexus "LFA" supercar and compact rear-wheel-drive sports cars. In motor sports, it will not only race in various categories, but will also actively contribute to further development of motor sports by supporting grassroots races and planning events in which it is easy for people to participate.

Press Conference Address: November 4, 2009

Toyota's Withdrawal from Formula One Competition

Akio Toyoda
Toyota Motor Corporation

Thank you for taking the time to join us today for this press conference.

We have convened this conference to make an important announcement about Toyota's participation in Formula One competition.

Toyota has engaged in F1 racing for eight seasons, starting in two thousand two. But we will conclude our participation in F1 competition with this season.

Our board of directors reached that decision after debating the issue thoroughly. I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has supported our F1 program over the past eight years.

That includes the fans who cheered for our team, the companies that sponsored our racing program, the journalists who covered our activities, and the drivers and all the other team members, who shared the excitement of automobiles with people worldwide through F1 racing.

I attended the Japanese Grand Prix last month at the Suzuka Circuit. The passion of the fans was infectious. The team play displayed by our F1 team, Panasonic Toyota Racing, was incredibly impressive, and our driver's performance was genuinely stunning.

When I think of the fans, emotions well up inside me. All I can hope is that people will understand that this painful decision was unavoidable in view of the present business environment and the medium- and long-range outlook. Our fans have been calling on us to really go at it next year. And I offer my sincere apologies that we will be unable to fulfil their expectations.

The Toyota F1 team has competed in one hundred forty F1 races over the past eight years. It has tackled each race with intensity and has honed its competitiveness continuously.

I salute the Toyota team for performing impressively in head-to-head competition with the greatest names in motor sports. And I thank the members of our team for sharing with us their passion and their vision.

I have been calling for product-focused management since I became president at Toyota this June. I have called for Toyota to concentrate on serving customers one at a time with flavorful vehicles that make them happy.

That priority mandates a fundamental shift in resource allocation. A sad result of that shift is that we have insufficient resources to maintain a viable commitment to F1 racing.

Economic and market conditions remain extremely trying. But adversity only heightens the importance of rethinking our proper legacy for the next generation.

A commitment to contributing to society through the manufacture of automobiles has steered all activity at Toyota since the company's beginning. Today, we are undertaking several initiatives to promote the development of automotive culture on a new and higher plane.

Motor sports remain an important means of personalizing the automobile in the eyes of customers. Motor sports also remain an important means of cultivating human resources and our R&D operations.

We will rethink our motor-sports activities with an eye to maximizing those benefits while addressing economic realities. And we will take what we learn on the racetrack and put it to work in ever-better vehicles that are aimed at meeting the highest of expectations.

Thank you.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why would you be mad at Toyota leaving??? Oh boy or boy, like little children...

      TTE won't be sold trust me. They will use it for "other" activities and its been long rumored they want to race the Lexus LF-A at Le Mans. That program is ready to rock, all they need is the green light from Toyota City.

      F1 is less relevant (like it was before?) today as its seen as the sport of the Oligarchs, people with pockets so deep they could buy Luxembourg lock, stock and barrel.

      Especially after seeing the State of the Art track in Dubai, how is the British GP suppose to compete with that?

      While its sad in a scene to see Toyota pull the plug on F1, us Sports Car fans are giddy with glee, Toyota has long been sniffing around La Sarthe since they left I think in 2002. They were even at the Asian Le Mans Series Round held with the WTCC this past weekend, kicking tires.

      • 5 Years Ago
      That's great to hear.. Now get them out of NASCAR, and NHRA, and that would be even better... bye to the toyota for good...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm really sad to see Toyota leave. I think F1 needs a Japanese team in the sport because of their history in racing plus the Japanese people seemed to support F1 and are good fans.

      I was also hoping that Toyota was going to stay for next year so we could see what Kobayashi could do. He showed a lot of promise in his only two appearances.

      But Toyota's departure, along with BMW, also means there are only 4 engine suppliers left in F1. The Renault (which no one outside of the factory team seems to want), Ferrari, Mercedes, and now Cosworth.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is Renault staying?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not a surprise, but nice to see end of it finally.
      Happened to see this in finnish tv news where Toytota boss Tadashi Yamanshi car crying on the press conference. Seemed to be important.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nascar is a bit of a joke now...although it is entertaining. All the motors are essentially the same starting this year. The cars are the same. Its a rolling billboard that that you pay an entry fee to advertise your wares. Its easier for Toyota to do Nascar than it is F1. F1 is also a mess as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      STFU, you retard.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota like Honda like BMW has too much red tape to be effective in F1. Decisions have to be made now and can't wait for a commitee to approve them at a later date. Except for Ferrari and McLaren big auto companies don't do well overall in F1.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stupid and unfounded assumption.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I remember the old print media ads Toyota ran when they first joined F1, saying "within 3 years we will be the champions, relentless pursuit for success" or something to that avail. Big call, 8 years later and not a single win. They should've stuck with rallying
        • 5 Years Ago
        back in the 90's? yes. they were banned for a year for cheating.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They also said if they win and dominate by overspending they would kill the sport.

        I am not an F-1 fan, but it sounds as if this might be a good thing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Didnt they got caught for cheating in WRC, and were banned ?
      • 5 Years Ago
      To all you NASCAR bashers who criticize the "old" tech cars, this is the result of chasing all that "new" technology.

      These manufacturers do not have unlimited money. The economic downturn combined with the astronomical costs at the F1 level has pushed several leading manufacturers out.

      Toyota lives on in NASCAR.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd like to see Nascar get into road racing. Sure, speedways have their place, but how cool would it be to see these cars racing on old airfields and city streets???? The sound of those engines roaring down the Long Beach circuit would be epic. Considering that Nascar was created by old moonshine haulers trying to outrun the cops, it would be appropriate.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I am not bashing NASCAR for it's "old tech" but it would be better for the engine manufacturers if NASCAR did go to a more modern engine so they could use the racing as a bit of a testing ground.

        I am sure Ford would love to run a Eco-Boost engine there. The modern engine could easily put out the same horse power but with better MPG thus adding a new element to the racing, fuel economy. Think about it, if one manufacturers' engine gets slightly better MPG they might be able to make one less fuel stop in a race.

        This would drive other manufacturers to do the same thus creating a competitive environment with MPG as part of the show. This would go hand in hand with what the engine manufacturers are doing on the public side. Same horse power, better MPG with a much needed better connection between NASCAR cars and showroom cars.

        F1 just made a big step in this direction by banning refueling next year, making MPG very important.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I and many other wish they would live nascar but than again I havent seen a nascar race in years and try not to buy anything that nascar shows on the tv either bring nascar back to stock car racing and you might find a whole lot of people coming back to the sport,till then screw nascar
      • 5 Years Ago
      WOW...wish they would drop out of NASCAR too! Redneck racing is no place for slant eyed gooks. How about that for being politically incorrect.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why was Toyota looking to hire Kimi up until last week?

      Toyota was crippled by hiring the most over-rated driver in F1 at the time- Ralf. They only started to recover in the last two years.

      BMW and Toyota leaving is tragic.

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