Toyota not planning return to “elitist” F1

Posted on

| Written by

Toyota’s former F1 boss Tadashi Yamashina has said the company isn’t interested in competing in F1 because it is too distant from ordinary drivers.

Speaking to Automotive News Yamasina said Toyota, who announced its decision to quit F1 within days of the 2009 season finale, would have happened regardless of the credit crunch:

It might not have been so abrupt, but it would have happened.

President [Akio] Toyoda?s stance on motorsports is geared more toward the customer. There is a big gap between Formula One and Toyota?s actual car users.
Tadashi Yamashina

Yamashina may have a point about F1 when he criticises it for being “elitist” and restricting the fans’ access to the paddock and the teams.

But it’s not a convincing explanation for why Toyota left the sport. The sport is hardly any less less friendly towards fans now than it was when Toyota entered in 2002.

Toyota’s dreadful under-performance at gigantic expense surely has more to do with why their team was canned.

They are still competing in NASCAR and are evaluating a move into the World Touring Car Championship. The company has suffered terrible publicity this year due to a series of braking defects on its road cars.

Read more: Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

58 comments on “Toyota not planning return to “elitist” F1”

  1. I read this as well Keith, he was explicitly referring to the le Mans series as well as being more fan-friendly.

    As you state, F1 did not change much in that respect, so that would be only part of the reason for quitting.
    The management might have changed its opinion on the worth, but the enormous amounts of money thrown at it without any real result must have been the more obvious reason.

  2. I think it’s safe to say F1 isn’t interested in Toyota either. Their spend-and-hope policy just showed that although they may have had the money to compete and potentially challenge for wins, that’s all they saw F1 as being about rather than understanding what the sport really is.
    Bestn of luck to them and their sales, it’s probably for the best that they left the sport anyway if that’s their attitude. I think I’ll stick with teams like Ferrari, Mclaren, Williams and Renault etc who really want to be there. I just feel sorry for the Toyota employees. This isn’t a rant against Toyota by the way, it’s just kind oh ‘oh yeah they used to race’ feeling. Still no passion towards them or coming from them.

    1. Magnificent Geoffrey
      19th May 2010, 12:00

      The car in front is a Toyota…

      …about to be lapped.

      1. Actually, they had the quickest car in Bahrain 2009 and should’ve won had it not been for poor tyre choice. They were actually quite a good team (unless you look at the budget they had perhaps).

        1. Toyota managed some poles, early in 09 people were even saying they could perhaps get in the mix for the title but it didn’t happen.

          1. No, they didn’t manage to fight for it, but they started the championship with the 3:rd fastest car, so I’d say they wewen’t doing too badly compared to for example BMW.

          2. That’s exactly what I’m saying though “some people said” not me.

    2. I used to hate Renault, I now am a fan, just because they stayed, this has proved why they are there, It isn’t entirely about advertising.

      Williams are the epitome of what an F1 team should be, no they are not having the success they desire, but they are there to race.

      1. “Williams are the epitome of what an F1 team should be, no they are not having the success they desire, but they are there to race.”

        I agree. That’s why I want Williams to reach the top again soon. Especially now they’ve got Rubens Barrichello.

      2. Renault didn’t really stay… the Genii logo’s on the front wishbones give a far clearer indication of what the Renault team really is.

    3. the Sri Lankan
      19th May 2010, 15:30

      well steph you can feel like that for all you care but believe it or not, for us Toyota fans there’s nothing like seeing the brand we love compete in the top level of Motorsports. i used to be sponsored by Toyota here in New Zealand since my Karting days so its only natural that I’ve grown to seeing the brand being associated with various forms of Motorsports. and by having you saying that F1 wasn’t interested in Toyota is quite a Daft comment and i expected a little better from you to be honest. do you speak for everyone and everything that’s represented by F1? if so, where do you pull such ridiculous ideas? F1 has a reach of over millions of people, are you saying that at-least one of them dont need to see Toyota competing in the series? i know that Toyota’s not short of haters but for F1 to loose an important manufacturer like Toyota (believe it or Not) is quite a blow. i’ve always said this before and i’ll say it again because some of you have a hard time wrapping your head around the fact that F1 without manufacturers is an utter joke. F1 is supposed to represent pinnacle of motor-racing. motor-racing could, and should pave way for innovation and technology that’s going to be seen in future automobile. so for it to be represented by teams like Force India, Redbull, HRT which gives no direct input to the automotive industry is a little pathetic dont you think? so based on that im not too surprised that Toyota left on the idea that F1 is far less relevant to other series of Motorsports in terms of technology, innovation , excitement, and marketing value. im sure the big shots at Toyota Clearly know this better than you.

      1. Hello the Sri Lankan,

        I understand Toyota is a positive example for its motorsport efforts to you.
        I also understand that they left the sport after being unsuccesfull for quite some years putting far to much money in without any real results or progres shown. Face saving comments by them are understandable and the remarks about F1 not taking good care of their fans are shared by most people on this blog.

        But to state leaving F1 because of it being to “elitist” is understandably gettin a lot of F1 fans upset. Steph is a Ferrari fan, one of the most elitist manufacturers in the world but a team warmly embraced by its fans worldwide. So having a lot of fans and being exclusive at the same time is very much possible.

        For most Europeans Toyota still is not much of a motorsport company. OK they did have nice sports cars, but that was a long time ago, and Lexus so far has not really cought on here. They are pretty much non present in motorsport.

        Interestingly the same day another top 5 car maker (VW – http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/05/19/volkswagen-interested-in-new-f1-engine-formula/ ) is quoted as thinking of joining F1 precisely because of its exclusive standing in the motorsport world, taking the high cost and high technological level as a challenge.
        I am sure this was one of the reasons Toyota wanted to enter F1 when they did as well, just like all new entrants getting in.

        Steph stated explicitly, that he would like to see Toyota back only if they would change their approach to it.

        I did see an american comment saying pretty much the same about Toyota in American racing series. So it seems to be an image problem of Toyota in Europe and the USA.

      2. I was speaking for myself and my veiw of F1 I never try and assert my own views on anyone as they are usually wrong!
        Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Toyota to get their first win. I wanted them to stay but I did not like the way they went about it. I also do not hate anyone who tries to sell anything in F1, RBR would be a good example, they;re there to sell but do it with a philosophy/attitude that is enthusiastic. yes, they;re all about the fun because of the brand but I’m not taling about that I’m talking about how they use resources and the people around them.
        Don;t assume I’m a fangirl full of hate at a team, they just never inspired me and I’m entitled to say that and debate that but without being talked down to. I also said when they left that it was a big shame but now they’ve gone there is absolutely no point for them to come back nor do I want them to.
        I also do back big manufacturers in F1 (I’ve never once uttered a bad word about their presence in F1) and always have but I think the sport needs underdog, smaller teams to compete, compare and give some sort of realism and aspiration. They’ll price themselves out of F1. F1 can’t just close itself off and only use the big names, running 3 cars etc as then it’ll go the same way as Toyota’s efforts in F1; it’ll get too expensive for nothing and be its own downfall. They may not give anything directly to the automobile industry but it helps the economy generally, makes f1 more for the fans and they have designers etc who could bring about innovative technology. F1 needs to be tough and luxurious but not an exclusive club.

    4. F1 is interested in money and not in the teams (unless they bring in money like Ferrari) so it is pointless to get bitter that they left. They committed a large sum of money and expected results they didn’t get. While I wish they would have spent a more reasonable amount of money to compete I do feel that Formula 1 doesn’t really help any manufacturers than Mclaren and Ferrari sell cars (directly or indirectly). This is an elitist sport. I’ve been to the races and seen enough to tell you from other motorsport experiences that there has to be some kind of changes in order to make this worth it in today’s world.
      I expect that once the engines become more manufacturer and environmentally friendly that we will see more teams putting pressure on the FIA to make the sport worth it to the fans. It’s still an amazing sport to see, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t far from perfect! It could be much better and I hope that this happens.

    5. gospeedracer
      20th May 2010, 11:38

      “I think it’s safe to say F1 isn’t interested in Toyota either.”….sounds pretty elitist to me.

  3. He’s right though even if he is just trying to soften the blow of their F1 exit. Downforce, carbon brakes, slick tyres, carbon fiber chassis all have little to do with Joe Soaps 1.2 liter hatchback.

  4. Lets be completely honest here, NASCAR isn’t relevant to real life drivers either. Its a silhouette series, they don’t use original car’s chassis and Toyota don’t even have a V8 in their road car range (certainly not in the Camry).

    1. and by the way, this statement just shows that they only ever thought of F1 as a marketing exercise.

      We (the fans) don’t want organisations like that in F1. We want teams who are there to race.

      1. What’s wrong with teams who enter F1 for marketing reasons? They do more for the sport than racers like McLaren or Williams because they advertise all over the world about their involvement in F1, thus keeping the image of F1 alive.

        1. Magnificent Geoffrey
          19th May 2010, 12:51

          I agree with Ben. Big manufacturers may claim to have ‘racing in their blood’ or whatever, but you know that it’s all just a sales pitch – they’re appealing to us as racing fans by attempting to construct a ‘racing’ identity for themselves. Ultimately, however, their ‘racing’ identity is extremely shallow because it’s born completely out of a desire to sell more of their product to the consumers – the fans. Even if the group that was the ‘Toyota Formula 1 Team’ was a legitimately skilled squad of drivers and mechanics, they were effectively only ‘Toyota’ in name and finance only – how much integration was there between the road-car side of Toyota and their Formula 1 team, really?

          Contrast this with the privateer teams – the Williams, McLarens, Saubers, Virgins, Lotuses (Loti?), Force Indias, HRTs and Ferraris of the grid*. Now, the one and only reason these teams exist is because of the Formula 1 World Championship. Racing in Formula 1 is all that Williams Grand Prix Engineering does, has done or exists to do. Ferrari may be the most iconic sports car marquee in the world, but the reason they came to be was because Enzo Ferrari wanted to prove that his cars were the best in the world by competing and winning in the Formula 1 World Championship – and you know that winning the F1 titles is the number 1 priority of the entire Ferrari organisation every year, not selling as many cars as they possibly can. The privateer teams have no hidden agendas, no outside influences that affect what they do or how they do it and so you know they are 100% committed to one thing and one thing only, winning.

          I didn’t enjoy watching the number of privateer F1 teams consistently disappear off the grid to be replaced by major manufacturers the last 10 seasons or so because of exactly this. Give me ‘Jordans’, ‘Saubers’ and ‘Brawns’ on the grid over ‘Hondas’, ‘Toyotas’ or ‘Jaguars’ any day of the week. I’ve not shed a tear over any of the big manufacturers dropping out over the last few years (except BMW – who I think were the most admirable of them all) because I think a Formula 1 made up of purely ‘racing’ entities is a much better scenario for us fans than a grid full of half-hearted manufacturer teams.

          *I’m going to leave Red Bull out of this because I can’t make up my mind whether they count as a ‘privateer team’ or not – being run by a big corporation and all.

          1. I totally agree, Except I’d now add Renault to the list of real F1 teams, mainly because if they were not in it for the racing, they would have left.

            I think Lotus, and Virgin are good for the sport, I just hope at least one survives past a few years.

          2. the Sri Lankan
            19th May 2010, 15:49

            how much integration was there between the road-car side of Toyota and their Formula 1 team, really?

            exactly what is the degree of freedom manufacturers get in terms of technological growth from F1? clever devices such as Kers, Mass damper, active suspension and soon F-duct gets banned before they can even be perfected and be applied to road cars in a perfected manner.

        2. Huh? Manufacturer’s do more for the sport than McLaren or Williams?

          Remind me how many manufacturer’s we have seen come and go from F1 in the time that McLaren and Williams have been competing. F1 was the pinnacle of motorsport long before large manufacturers starting messing around in it.

          Fact is manufacturer involvement has damaged the sport more than it has helped. F1’s image has suffered because of the actions of Toyota, Ford and BMW over the past few years. Those companies showed that they just don’t care about the racing, it was only ever about selling cars. When they didn’t get the return they wanted, they left the sport in the lurch by just walking away.

          We want people who are there because they are racers. This is a racing series, not an economic exercise.

        3. We want teams that are there for the same reasons we wish we were there.

      2. Well, it is a business. All participants have to make money or at least break even long-term. The exceptions to this are the billionare fan-owners, like in Red Bull and Force India.

        For a public company like Toyota, they simply calculated what they put into it and what they got out of it, and the numbers were too far off.

        It’s a shame for us fans, but I understand it from a business standpoint.

        1. The thing is, these modern millionares and billionares got rich with clever investments in lean businesses (Mallya, Branson, Fernandes as well as Mateschitz) and no nonsense bussiness desicions to make them work.

          As far as i know, Mallya and Branson have lent money to the teams instead of just pouring it in.
          These guys know, they must put the right people in the right places and give them the right tools to make first to put the racing teams profitable as all investments they make.

          The boards of large companies like Toyota, Honda, Ford, Mercedes and to a lesser extent BMW think completely different. For them teams propose budgets and promise achieving sporting results which in turn should make marketing oppertunities. These are then compared with other marketing efforts before going ahead.

        2. the Sri Lankan
          19th May 2010, 15:57

          so far…you are the only one that’s said something non-biased and logical here. the rest are like – wiliiams, true racers , only want people that want to be here bla bla bla…its sad really to see that F1’s littered with meat-head fans that will never have a clue or bother making the effort to understand the big picture before bashing companies for doing whats good for them.

          1. From a business view I agree with you.
            Sri Lankan that’s not what I’m saying. What I said was that Toyota never attempted to understand the sport, they were too clinical. They didn’t see past the money and got tangled up in their own backdoor politics. It wasn’t good for the sport to see a big name fail in that way and it wasn’t good for them. I’d welcome Toyota back if I’d thought they’d learned anything.

    2. Sush Meerkat
      19th May 2010, 12:13

      They do have V8’s, but they are actually Ferrari engines they bought off them.

      1. The Renaults are built by a specialist group which really has nothing to do with the ‘real’ cars, and now that Renault only own about 25%, its closer to being an independent team than ever before. It might actually concentrate more on racing than in previuos years…..
        Red Bull/Torro Rosso must count as independent, since they develop the cars themselves and buy in the engines. Do you think Torro Rosso would gain Renault power soon?
        As for the Manufacturers, I still think most of them go off in the wrong direction buying into F1 and getting a ‘team’ as a complete package. Most of F1 isn’t relevent to normal cars, but the engine/gearbox always is. I even think Mercedes, for all their experience with McLaren, have shot themselves in the foot by taking over Brawn. All the other examples have shown that the mixture of commercial interests vs racing needs always ends in tears, and the end of the team.
        Lets have all independent teams and NO manufacturers allowed – and I count Ferrari as a manufacturer these days, see Geoffry’s comments above……

    3. Correction.

      The used their knowledge gained from V-8’s in Nascar to develop their Truck engines that they have in the Tundra. 5.6 Litre v-8’s Along with the 5.0 litre v-8 in the Lexus IS-F.

      Toyota’s involvement in Nascar has an impact where Toyotas sell well. In America. It certainly has helped their image with the Average america ( read; Hillbilly Redneck) Who had Toyota not be involved in NASCAR who have never considered buying a Japenese car/truck.
      And I would say they used some knowledge from F-1 to develop their Supercar, The Lexus Lf-A. So I guess that was their last horrah before exiting the sport.

      1. Toyota does not offer a 5.6 liter v8. They do offer a 4.6 and 5.7. they are dohc engines . nothing at all similar to an overhead valve pushrod v8 used in NASCAR. apples and oranges.

  5. MouseNightshirt
    19th May 2010, 12:36

    Well, obviously their brake problems are to do with them pulling out of F1!

  6. Robert McKay
    19th May 2010, 12:41

    What a childish way of saying “boo hiss sob it’s too difficult for us even though we spent the GDP of a country on it”.

  7. I agree F1 could be a lot more fan friendly, but F1 is supposed to be the best drivers in the quickest cars so of course it is going to be elitist.

    There had been rumours that Toyota would quit F1 for a few years before they actually did because even though they spent vast amounts of money they never won a race let alone challenged for a title. So I am not surprised they have said they would quit even if the credit crunch didn’t happen.

    I also wouldn’t have been surprised if Toyota had been successful in F1 if they had taken the attitude after a few titles of mission accomplished what next and left F1.

  8. More interesting is more noises from VW about possibly entering.

    http://smh.drive.com.au/motor-news/vwporsche-set-for-f1-20100519-vcy8.html

    “Formula one has been, I would say, in a crisis, it has been very expensive, manufacturers have been pulling out and a lot of political discussions and stories. Which I think, personally, is really a shame because I think formula one is number one in motorsport. Formula one is very attractive for everybody.”
    -VW Motorsport boss Kris Nissen

    1. Another nice quote for F1 fans is this part:

      With plans to build a new midsize sedan in the United States next year Thul revealed the German company considered joining Toyota, Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford but ruled against it because of cost and NASCAR’s out-dated technology. NASCAR still uses pushrod V8 engines with carburettors instead of fuel injection.

      “We did study NASCAR but it was very expensive and the engines are from the middle ages… From the PR side it’s fantastic but not the technology,” Thul said.

      1. “from the PR side it’s fantastic” That is once very good point. NASCAR treats it’s fans like gold, comparde to F1 which treats them with some form of contempt.

  9. There’s also a big gap between F1 and Toyota’s actual cars, and good thing too. Even now the manufacturers are still trying to turn F1 into a road-relevant sport that serves as a test bed for their real interests, outside of the sport. Even McLaren and Ferrari support this agenda. With the departure of Toyota, at least we have one less interest in changing F1 for reasons other than improving the actual sport and racing.

    At least McLaren and Ferrari still enjoy racing and are in the sport because they love it. Toyota never did.

    1. “one less interest in changing F1 for reasons other than improving the”

      No…..NO DON’T SAY IT!!!!

      “actual sport and racing.”

      oh thank god, thought you were going to use the dreaded ‘s’ word

      1. Brilliant! Made my day :-D

      2. Improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle, improve the spectacle :p

        1. Thought the s word was the ‘show’ :P just kidding

          1. grrrr, I hate you steph!

            Is it a coincidence that “show” and “steph” both start with S? I think not!

    2. Toyota used to have a great range of sports cars. The MR2, Supra, Celica… now they just make dull hatchbacks for Mr and Mrs Grey to take the children to a garden centre on Sunday afternoon.

      No wonder they don’t think F1 is relevant to their road cars.

      1. I think that is about to change. With the introductions of the the two door coupe RWD’s Ft-86 and the LF-A and a supra slated to comeout in the coming years I think they are set to revive a sleeping giant in the motorsport community.

    3. Even now the manufacturers are still trying to turn F1 into a road-relevant sport that serves as a test bed for their real interests, outside of the sport.

      I think that should really read that they are trying to return F1 to a road relevant series as that is what it always was until the late 1990s.

      It was only the introduction of seriously advanced aerodynamics in the late 1990s resulting in the banning of other technologies in an attempt to slow the cars down that stopped F1 being road relevant.

      In the 1960s Ford got Cosworth to design the DFV engine for the Lotus racing team with the idea of using half of it as a basis for their production engines, this started off a boom in engine development that brought about huge improvements to both F1 and production cars, the manufacturers were happy to spend the cash on F1 R&D as they could use the technology in their road cars as well as getting loads of good advertisements.

      Active suspension, ABS, traction control, laser ignition and loads of other technologies have also been developed initially as a piece of racing technology but funded (mainly) by big manufacturers as they knew they would be able to adapt it for their road cars.

      The main obstacle to this now is the aerodynamics, very few road cars use the same sort of aerodynamics as an F1 car so the technology is largely irrelevant and because the cars now produce so much downforce any other technology that the teams develop gets banned in order to prevent the cars from getting too fast.

      I’d much rather see F1 without so much aerodynamic downforce so that the engine, chassis, suspension and other parts of the cars can be opened up for development again as not only would this give us better racing it would give the manufacturers a genuine reason to be involved with the sport again.

      I don’t really understand objections to the sport being more road relevant, it’s not like they’re going to be putting cup holders or baby seats onto the cars.

  10. Sounds like a typical face-saving comment from a company man from my part of the world (East Asia).

    The fact is that Toyota had one of the largest budgets in F1 history (probably larger than Ferrari, McLaren and Renault combined) and underperformed to such an extent that even the most fanatic Japanese F1 fan would have derided them. The lack of good fundamentals and continuity in their early years probably didn’t help either.

    The problems Honda suffered from after they took over BAR were rather different, having been forced to a “decision by committee” style of working and having a chief designer who didn’t understand downforce inflicted on them.

  11. A complete cop out. In the USA toyota has entered into every other form of motorsport NASCAR to NHRA. I have never seen a 500 cubic inch nitro breathing toyota or a 350 v8 carburated toyota engine. Simply they couldn’t win and never would. Hard to be a front runner when they are always borrowing someone elses design. I’m sure a 5000 hp top fuel engine is relevant to any road car….. Hey Toyota , ya lost some face there!

  12. So if you’re not good at a sport you call it “elitist” and quit? For me this just sounds like an excuse.

    And concerning the fans: He propably has a good point there. But Toyota didn’t seem like the most fan-friendly team either.

  13. Isn’t this ironic? On one hand Toyota sells appliances – good appliances, but still appliances. So they should have known better before entering in F1 that this ‘elitist’ series was not the best way to promote their products. On the other hand, once in F1 Toyota certainly did nothing to change the sport. Quite the contrary, they spent like drunken sailors to achieve absolutely nothing. Toyota’s experience in F1 should become a classic study in how not to compete in the sport.

  14. “President [Akio] Toyoda’s stance on motorsports is geared more toward the customer. There is a big gap between Formula One and Toyota’s actual car users.
    Tadashi Yamashina”

    So I guess we won’t be seeing Hyundai enter F1 any time soon…..Kia?

    1. I think I heard Hyundai rumor to enter to F1 was 2-3 years back, so they missed the trick to enter in F1 when the FIA opened tender for the new teams to enter in F1 in 2009, don’t seems like they are submitting their forms in 2010.

  15. Probably Toyota can say that their move no to any more F1 racing was good as they had a lot of trouble this year with their car recall.One of the biggest problem with them was that they had some of the good engineers, drivers, sponsors but they couldn’t spend their money for any good.It was a shame that one of the leading car manufacturer in the world have to leave F1 empty handed.

  16. the Sri Lankan
    20th May 2010, 2:04

    Now i know im going to get the Bash for this…but as a fan of Toyota i stared watching Nascar – something i never thought i would do because Toyota’s there and surprisingly, winning. i have a sneaky feeling that sometime maybe 10, 50 or even 100 years Toyota will come back to F1. all the negative publicity from their first involvement needs to be put aside and the only way they can do it is by performing better than they did in the past. but for the time being id rather watch them go somewhere else because F1’s proven in the past 10 years that competing series like the FIA gt, le-mans and super gt etc offer better value for money if that’s what you are after. hopefully in the next few years we’ll see them in Le-mans or FIA gt now that the Lf-a’s won in the sp8 class in the nurburgring 24 hours

  17. What makes me laugh is that if F1 is so elitist and irrelevant to Toyota, why makes these comments? As with many others on this site, I agree that these are just more excuses from a company that was ‘humbled into retirement’ at the highest level of motorsport. During the seven years Toyota were in F1, the sport has never been so corporate nor anti-fan orientated. If that was a sticking point, why bring it up now after YOU HAVE LEFT the party and not before? Its complete ********!

  18. Hey, I just stopped by this site from Bing and just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for the information that you’ve provided.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.