Having hinted less than two months ago that 'if we have a weak season we have no future' left in the sport, Toyota Motorsport President John Howett has now reflected that the Japanese manufacturer may commit itself to Formula 1 for somewhat longer.
There have been repeated question marks over Toyota's long-term participation in the top flight for a number of years, with still no win on the board after some 123 grand prix starts and the current global credit crunch forcing all car makers to re-assess their priorities.
In the wake of Japanese rival Honda's shock announcement back in December that it was pulling out of F1 with immediate effect, many surmised that Toyota would be next in-line to follow suit, but Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) President Luca di Montezemolo revealed last week following the landmark meeting in Geneva that all ten teams are now 'prepared to commit' to the sport 'until the end of 2012' [see separate story – click here
] – and Howett has suggested that Toyota could pledge its future 'perhaps longer'.
During this week's Barcelona group test, a team engineer contended that 'taking into consideration the fuel weights, we had the fastest car in the field' [see separate story – click here
], and Howett admits that his initial pre-season pessimism may have been a touch premature.
“It is said that we will retreat if we do not win,” the Englishman told international news agency AFP
, “but when you look at the general economic climate, all the teams have to proceed with caution and all must be successful, which puts on the pressure.
“At the same time there is such pressure on the market. We must provide value to the company. I am confident, though; if we have a strong season, we will stay.”