Toyota came close to withdrawing


Toyota Motor Sports Chairman, Tadashi Yamashina, has revealed that the Japanese team came close to following Honda's example and quitting F1 at the end of 2008.

Japan's Daily Yomiuri reports that in an interview Yamashina admits that executives at Toyota deliberated right up to the 22 December press conference - at which the company reaffirmed its commitment to the sport - as to whether to continue.

Despite the fact that Toyota recorded its first operating loss in almost seventy years, it was the support of title sponsor Panasonic which finally convinced Toyota executives to continue with the F1 programme.

"We have competed in the F1 circuit over the past seven years, which I believe has helped to invigorate our company and contributed to the sales of our products," said Yamashina. "I stressed again and again in the company's executive board meetings there was no way we should pull out, although we have to drastically cut our costs.

"Obviously our negative business reports did cause some doubt," he admitted. "So I was extremely happy that Panasonic decided to renew its contract with us even though they also had some financial trouble. Their understanding of what we are doing allowed us to keep racing," Yamashina said.

Having come so close to losing the support of the Toyota board, Yamashina is under no illusions as to the objectives in 2009.

"We must win," he said. "I'm sure of our team's potential to win a GP title after watching the final test on Thursday. Our team is definitely better than that of last year, whose best performance was a runner-up finish."

Other than success on track, Yamashina is convinced that the plan to dramatically reduce spending will help his team to continue in 2010 and beyond.

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Published: 15/03/2009
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