Just hours after it was revealed that Toyota is pulling the plug on its official F1 involvement with immediate effect, the FIA has announced that it is examining the legality of the move – given that the Japanese manufacturer had already committed to the binding 2012 Concorde Agreement only weeks earlier.
Toyota has become the fourth major player in a year – following in the wheel tracks of fellow car makers Honda and BMW, and universal tyre-supplier Bridgestone – to withdraw from top flight competition. Whilst the FIA stated that the news only serves to underline 'the importance of the original cost-reduction measures' for which outgoing president Max Mosley has been fighting for some time, the governing body added with caution that the legal nature of the Cologne-based outfit's departure needs to be closely scrutinised before any decisions can be taken about admitting another team – ostensibly Qadbak Sauber, which is still waiting anxiously and eagerly in the wings – to assume its place.
The full statement read as follows:
'The announcements this week by Toyota and Bridgestone of their withdrawal from Formula One are of concern to the FIA. Bridgestone has given almost 18 months' notice of its intentions, thereby allowing the necessary arrangements to be made for the future supply of tyres to the championship. Toyota's decision, however, comes just weeks after its F1 team signed the new Concorde Agreement until 2012.
'Urgent clarification is now being sought from the Toyota F1 team as to its legal position in relation to the championship. This will have a direct bearing on the admission of any future 13th entry.
'The FIA has repeatedly warned that motorsport cannot outpace the world economic crisis. That is why the competing teams have been asked to cut costs and the entry of independent teams has been encouraged. The FIA accepted the cost-reduction measures put forward by the teams on the basis that they would ensure a long-term commitment to the championship. Toyota's announcement demonstrates the importance of the original cost-reduction measures set out by the FIA.
'The FIA will now work to ensure that Toyota's departure is managed in the best interests of the championship, and will continue to encourage the F1 teams to undertake the necessary cost-cutting measures for the good of the sport.'