Toyota has become the third major car manufacturer to pull out of Formula One in the space of twelve months. With word of the exit having circulated already, confirmation of the Japanese marque’s decision came on Wednesday; the news does, however, mean that there is now space on the grid for the Qadbak-owned Sauber outfit.
With Honda having pulled the plug on its F1 project last December and the same news coming from BMW in July, the latter’s Hinwil-based team now looks to have secured a position on the 2010 grid after Toyota’s announcement arrived.
Having moved out of rallying at the end of the last decade to concentrate on its F1 plan, the Cologne-based team first moved onto the grid in 2002 with Mika Salo and Allan McNish as the driver line-up. Despite its significant budget, no podium result would come until the Malaysian Grand Prix of 2005, courtesy of Jarno Trulli, who followed up on the success to grab pole position at Indianapolis the same year.
Along with Brawn and Williams, Toyota looked to have finally succeeded in gaining an advantage over the rest of the field by being an early developer of a revolutionary double diffuser this season, although the red and white cars eventually fell back into the midfield as the likes of McLaren and Ferrari became stronger.
Toyota’s declaration this week underlines the ever-present economic issues of the sport following teams’ refusal to support a budget cap earlier in the year.