Wednesday, May 27, 2009

F1: Toyota Claims Quit Speculation Is Untrue


TOYOTA MOTORSPORT BOSS John Howett has rubbished suggestions his team will withdraw from Formula 1 regardless of the outcome of the budget cap dispute.

After Toyota issued its quit threat earlier in the month, rumours began to emerge from the Formula 1 paddock hinting the Japanese manufacturer was simply using the controversy as a means to withdraw from the sport.

Howett however has denied those claims, declaring the whispers untrue and providing reassurance that his team remains committed to its F1 program, pending the final result of negotiations between the teams and the FIA.

“I believe it is spin. It has been put there deliberately to create some more tension in the situation. I think that is going now wider than Toyota, onto one or more manufacturer teams,” he said to Autosport.

“I don’t know the source, but I can only say in our case that there is a clear wish to enter next year’s championship.

“That is easier to say than do, though, because to some extent there is now a very short deadline - earlier than I believe has been in recent years. And at the moment until things are clarified it is very difficult to place an entry.”


Since joining the F1 circus amid much fanfare in 2002, Toyota has been largely deprived of success, struggling for consistency despite boasting one of the sport’s largest budgets.

The team appeared headed for success following a solid start to the 2005 season, where Jarno Trulli secured consecutive runner-up finishes in the opening races of the year, but were unable to capitalise on their early pace and only finished on the podium a further three times.

Toyota has since appeared in the top three on a mere five occasions in the subsequent four seasons, a paltry total for a team boasting such lofty expectations, prompting many to believe the automaker would pull the pin on its F1 operations.

However, Howett believes Toyota management is prepared to continue its investment in F1 until 2012 if it is satisfied with the terms of a new Concorde Agreement.

“For 18 months we have been confirming (Toyota is ready to commit until 2012) without any hesitation.” he said. “I don’t believe, from the drafts I’ve seen, that have been agreed with all the FOTA teams’ lawyers, that it is anything other than a totally professional and reasonable document.

“I think in the case of the Commercial Rights Holder, we are very, very close to actually managing to conclude the issues.


Meanwhile, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says his team has acted as a “peacemaker” in negotiations between FOTA and the FIA.

The Woking-based outfit opposes a two-tier championship, but Whitmarsh believes it has a responsibility to take a leadership role in reaching a solution.

“Formula 1 is our core business and I’d hope if you talked to any team in F1 they would say that McLaren is being very constructive and conciliatory, sought for compromise and we’ve seen it as our role,” he told Autosport.

“We are right in the middle in terms of budgets, we’ve got large teams and large continental corporations that are wrestling with the concept of becoming smaller and we’ve got small teams that are trying to survive and I think we can have an affinity from our position with both of those.”