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Toyota casts doubt on F1 future

NEWS STORY
10/05/2009

Toyota is the latest of the manufacturer teams to warn that it will reconsider its future in F1 should the FIA push ahead with its plans for the introduction of a budget cap which would essentially create a two-tier series.

Max Mosley, who is intent on pushing ahead with the budget cap, and forcing all the teams to tow the line, has raised the stakes by moving the date forward by which time teams must submit their entries for the 2010 World Championship.

The teams, who now have to submit their entries by May 29, last week called for urgent talks with the FIA President, who is currently indisposed following the death of his son Alexander last week.

With time running out, and having seen the stance the FIA has adopted in terms of Ferrari - whereby Mosley said that F1 could survive without the legendary Italian team - Toyota Motorsport boss John Howett warned, according to Reuters: "If nothing changes, we won't be submitting an entry. But I don't think that is a unique opinion among other competitors."

Known to be the biggest spenders in F1, but with little reward, one might think that Toyota would be all for a budget cap, after all, the Japanese manufacturer has reported the first operating loss in its entire history, whilst also witnessing the withdrawal of its great rival from the sport due to financial reasons.

However, while Howett appreciates the need to curb spending, he feels such a move would devalue the sport.

"I think it's very clear that with a double tier championship, you have to go for the 40 million cap because the (capped) cars will be quicker," he said. "As a corporation it's not only budget, its about the value of Formula One. And we think the double tier series is not the right direction."

Howett, who is also vice President of FOAT, also argues that the correct procedures have not been followed.

"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. There are a number of issues that need to be clarified before we can enter.

"We have social issues with our people," he added. "A forty million budget means that we would have to make a huge number of people redundant.

"We would love to stay here and we want to compete in the premier level of motorsport," he continued. "But I think it has to be said that given the current situation as we stand today, it is impossible to submit an entry."

Eager to point out that Toyota and its fellow manufacturers were keen to see new teams enter the sport, and not have F1 operate as a 'closed shop', he added: "We welcome, as Toyota and as FOTA, new entrants. It's purely that faced with the current situation, very simply we can't enter."

Asked if he believes the situation can be resolved, Howett admitted: "It's beyond our control. I used to believe that common sense would prevail, but I have to say that I'm becoming more pessimistic that it does."

The budget cap row aside, there are many who believe that Toyota's future in the sport is already in doubt, and that the Japanese outfit might use the current situation to cut its losses and withdraw from F1.

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