Toyota has sought to clarify remarks attributed to team principal Tadashi Yamashina that the big-budget Japanese manufacturer could yet pull the plug on its F1 project at the end of the 2009 world championship campaign – suggesting the comments were 'lost in translation' and taken out of context, as the team unveiled a new supplier for 2010 and beyond.
Earlier this week, Yamashina-san had hinted at an exit in saying that 'we need to turn it into an F1 where you don't need so much money' [see separate story – click here
], and there have also been paddock whisperings that both Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli have been advised to look elsewhere for employment at the highest level next year.
However, Toyota Motorsport President John Howett – who has suggested that the drivers are as much at fault for the Cologne-based outfit's lack of consistent results this season as is the car, and revealed that Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica are both on the wish list for 2010 [see separate story – click here
] – has rubbished the latest speculation regarding the team's future in the top flight, even though next year's budget is not due to be signed off or otherwise until a Toyota Motor Company board meeting two weeks after the end of the present campaign on 15 November.
“I think his (Yamashina's) position is that we should be here until 2012,” the Englishman is quoted as having said by Reuters
, “and on the point of giving an absolute guarantee, I think he was just pragmatic in saying that you can never really give that.
“We have a board meeting, we request the money annually, they have a number of meetings and finally in November they approve the global motorsport budget. It is not only F1 – it is NASCAR, Formula Nippon, Japanese GP, F3, everything. It is normal procedure.”
“As far as the team is concerned, we are committed to F1 through 2012,” added a team spokesman. “We are making inquiries about the reported comments. The feeling is that something may have been lost in translation.”
Following fellow Japanese marque Honda's shock withdrawal at the end of 2008 in response to falling car sales precipitated by the debilitating global credit crunch and poor on-track return for its considerable investment, it has been frequently mused that Toyota will be the next manufacturer to head for the F1 exit door. However, an announcement that ZF Sachs will supply dampers and clutches to the team in 2010 'and beyond' suggests that the decision has been taken to stay.
“Even though we are in the middle of a season, the development and planning for next season has already begun,” revealed Yamashina-san. “I am convinced that with the team's hard work and the continuing support from our partners, we will be stronger than ever.”