Posts Tagged ‘toyota’

Toyota quits Formula One

November 4th, 2009 No comments

Jarno Trulli, Abu Dhabi, 2009It was always a bit worrying that Toyota wanted to wait until a November board meeting to confirm its Formula One involvement for 2010 but the team had recently been making noises about its possible driver lineup for next year so today’s announcement that Toyota are quitting the sport immediately comes as something of a surprise.

It comes a week after Bridgestone said it would be leaving the sport after 2010 and a few months after BMW’s exit announcement. At least BMW hadn’t signed the Concorde Agreement committing themselves to 2012. Toyota’s breach of that contract could leave them open to some kind of legal challenge from Bernie Ecclestone but, ironically, Toyota’s exit could smooth the way for the ex-BMW team to rejoin the grid next year.

The world’s largest car manufacturer revealed it had made its first ever loss of $4.74 billion last year and is predicting to lose almost double that amount this year. Ultimately this is the reason for Toyota’s announcement today.

In a statement, Toyota said that their time in F1 was an “irreplaceable experience that provided an opportunity to develop both human resources and its R&D operations,” but in a press conference Toyota President Akio Toyoda expressed his regret at not achieving the results they wanted:

Based on the current economic environment, we realise we have no choice but to withdraw. This has been a very painful decision. I offer my deepest apologies to Toyota’s many fans for not being able to achieve the results we had targeted.

Despite being one of the most well-funded teams in Formula One, Toyota never won a race and their best result was fourth in the 2005 Constructors’ Championship. This lack of success was surprising considering Toyota’s considerable achievements in Rallying, winning the World Rally Championship three times between 1993 and 1999.

So where does this leave the drivers? Both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were expected to move on anyway but team boss John Howett had hinted he might give Kamui Kobayashi a full-time seat next year.

Kobayashi will now be looking to one of the other teams for a job and I hope one of them picks him up. Based on his performance in the last two races I think he is the most exciting rookie of 2009.

Image: Toyota

Categories: Teams Tags:

Toyota considering Kobayashi for 2010

October 23rd, 2009 No comments

Kamui Kobayashi, Catalunya, 2008Toyota boss John Howett is considering offering Kamui Kobayashi a race seat next year.

The 23-year-old filled in for the injured Timo Glock in Brazil last weekend and managed to finish a respectable 10th.

Not only that, he wasn’t afraid to go wheel to wheel against World Champion Jenson Button (who described him as “absolutely crazy.”)

There is a lot of uncertainty in the driver market at the moment and Toyota are waiting until a board meeting on 15 November to make the final decision on whether to keep racing in F1.

Apparently Jarno Trulli has promised Toyota chairman Tadashi Yamashina that he would not make any decisions on 2010 until after that meeting but I get the impression Jarno’s seat at Toyota is not as secure as he would like. Howett said of Trulli’s position:

We don’t exclude the possibility, but there need to be one or two issues that we get straight.

I’m a bit surprised at the cool reception Howett gave Kobayashi after Brazil, saying he was “a little bit off the pace,” but compared to the efforts of Grosjean and Alguersuari I think he did a great job in his first Grand Prix.

Personally, I would like to see Kobayashi given a drive next year. I was always a fan of Takuma Sato and I can see shades of Takuma’s Banzai spirit in Kamui.

Categories: Drivers Tags: , ,

How long until Toyota wins a Grand Prix?

June 29th, 2009 No comments

Jarno Trulli, Britain, 2009Despite being one of the most well-funded teams in Formula One, Toyota have still not won a Grand Prix; something that every other team on the grid besides Force India have managed to do.

Toyota’s debut season was in 2002 and, despite scoring a point in their first race in Australia (when half the field was wiped out in the first corner), the team had little success until 2005 when, after scoring points in nearly every race, they finished second in the Constructors’ Championship.

It has now been seven years and although Toyota have committed to racing until 2012, the bosses in Japan must be wondering when their massive investment will translate into a win.

But is seven years such a long time to go without a win in Formula One?  Well, yes, actually.  While teams have come and gone in the past without their drivers ever standing on the top step, when you compare Toyota to the other teams on the grid at the moment their development begins to look a bit stunted.

Here is a table showing the debut year and maiden win year for each of the current F1 teams:

Team Debut year Maiden win year Years before win
BMW Sauber 2006 2008 2
Brawn GP 2009 2009 0
Ferrari 1950 1951 1
Force India 2008
McLaren 1966 1968 2
Red Bull 2005 2009 4
Renault 1977 1979 2
Toro Rosso 2006 2008 2
Williams 1978 1979 1
Toyota 2002

I suppose you could argue that Toro Rosso actually took 23 years to score a maiden victory, if you include the Minardi years, but then Minardi never had a budget of $400m.

Image: Toyota

Categories: Teams Tags:

Cost caps and rule changes

May 12th, 2009 No comments

Toyota Motorsport President, John Howett, Spain, 2009The FIA recently announced plans to introduce a cost cap of £40m in 2010.  While the cost cap would be voluntary, those teams that signed up for it would be allowed a greater degree of technical freedom than the uncapped teams.

Any team that wishes to compete in the 2010 Championship must complete their application by the end of May and state whether they wish to compete under the cost cap or not.

While some of the smaller teams would be in favour of limiting budgets, the main area of concern for FOTA is that it would create a two-tier championship.  It is estimated that with the freedoms allowed under the cost cap, the cars of those teams that sign up could be two seconds per lap quicker than those of the uncapped teams.

Last week Toyota became the first team to declare they wouldn’t sign up for the 2010 Championship if there was a two-tier system in place but it was a comment by Toyota boss, and FOTA vice-chairman, John Howett that got me thinking.

The FIA own the “FIA Formula One World Championship” so presumably they can do what they want with it, right?  But are there procedures for changing the rules?  Regulations for the regulations, in effect?

This is what Howett said:

The regulations were announced but if you read the regulations, there is a proper process that should be followed and our understanding is that that hasn’t been done.

Article 1.1 of the 2009 F1 Sporting Regulations says:

All changes to the Formula One Technical and/or Sporting Regulations will be made in accordance with the procedures set out in Appendix 5.

and Apendix 5 states:

1. Changes to the Technical Regulations will be proposed by the Technical Working Group (TWG) consisting of one senior technical representative from each team and chaired by a representative of the FIA.

2. Changes to the Sporting Regulations will be proposed by the Sporting Working Group (SWG) consisting of one senior representative from each team and chaired by a representative of the FIA.

3. Decisions in the TWG and SWG will be taken by a simple majority vote. The FIA representative will not vote unless the teams’ representatives are equally divided, in which case he will exercise a casting vote.

I’m not really sure what this means.  Are the regulations valid for one year (and one year only) or do they carry on until a new set of rules replaces them?

If it is the case that there are “The Rules” which apply from their date of effect then it looks like the FIA cannot just arbitrarily decide to change them without consulting the teams.  In fact it looks like all changes to the rules must come from either the TWG or the SWG.

Maybe I’m missing something.  You can read the full regulations here, and if anyone can give me a definitive answer I’d love to hear it.

I’m starting to like the idea of a budget cap with increased technical freedom but the teams are always saying that one of the best ways to reduce costs is to stop messing with the rules.

Categories: Opinion Tags: ,

FIA says diffusers are legal

April 15th, 2009 No comments

Williams FW31 diffuserBrawn GP, Williams and Toyota are free to continue using their controversial double-decker diffusers after the FIA International Court of Appeal decided to deny the appeals of Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault.

The legality of the diffusers had been challenged at the Australian Grand Prix in March but the race stewards declared them legal at the time.

Since then, it has been uncertain whether the results of the first two Grands Prix would stand but Wednesday’s ruling means Jenson Button will keep his wins and Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams will keep their constructors points.

In a statement issued by the FIA, the International Court of Appeal said:

The FIA International Court of Appeal has decided to deny the appeals submitted against decisions numbered 16 to 24 taken by the Panel of the Stewards on 26 March at the 2009 Grand Prix of Australia and counting towards the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Based on the arguments heard and evidence before it, the Court has concluded that the Stewards were correct to find that the cars in question comply with the applicable regulations.

Full reasons for this decision will be provided in due course.

It will be interesting to see the full reasons ‘in due course’ but whatever they are this is a good decision by the FIA.  The worst outcome would have been the stripping of points from the first two races, something that with recent events I wouldn’t have been surprised to see.  Instead, the FIA have agreed with the race stewards (and Max Mosley, and Charlie Whiting) and rewarded those teams that were clever enough to find and exploit a loophole in the rules.

Now it is up to the other teams to develop their own double-decker diffusers (at not insignificant cost) and for the ‘diffuser three’ to make the most of their temporary advantage.  No doubt all the teams have at least started work on new diffusers and Renault may even be in a position to run one in Shanghai this weekend.

Jenson Button will be hoping for a hat trick on Sunday but as soon as BMW and Red Bull get their diffusers fitted he won’t find things so easy.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,