Toyota have affirmed their commitment to Formula One next year despite fears that the manufacturer could follow Japanese rivals Honda out of the sport due to the global financial crisis.
The Japanese car maker, which entered Formula One in 2002, is expected to announce its first ever operating loss in the new year amid a soaring Japanese YEN against the dollar and a slump in car sales.
With little in the way of results to back up the manufacturer’s multi-billion investment in grand prix racing over the last seven years Toyota Racing have scored just eight podiums on the back of an estimated yearly budget of $450-500 million it has been speculated that the company could follow Honda’s exit from Formula One given its comparative lack of history in the sport.
However, Toyota Team Principal Tadashi Yamashina has re-affirmed the team’s commitment to Formula One in 2009 suggesting that the pinnacle of motorsport still provides manufacturers a context in which to showcase performance, even in the current economic climate.
Yamashina’s discourse around ‘creativity’ inevitably points to re-structuring and cost-cutting within the team though – it has already been rumoured that Toyota’s Young Drivers Programme could be scrapped.
“Through Formula 1 racing we express Toyota’s challenging spirit and also our creativity and courage,” Yamashina said in an annual review of performance.
“Formula 1 is one of the biggest sports in the world and it is a very good tool for Toyota to spread its message to fans in many different countries. Toyota stands for creativity, challenge and courage.”
“We must be creative and have the courage to meet the exceptionally difficult challenge of succeeding in Formula 1 and I am confident we can do that.”