Toyota president Akio Toyoda has apologised for the firm’s withdrawal from Formula One.
The Japanese car giant took the decision at a board meeting earlier today as part of its drive to cut costs. Earlier this year, it posted its worst financial results in its history and it is expected to reveal more losses tomorrow.
Toyoda paid tribute to the team’s fans and said he was sorry to let them know the team would no longer be continuing in the sport.
“When I think of the fans, emotions well up inside me,” he said. “All I can hope is that people will understand that this painful decision was unavoidable in view of the present business environment and the medium- and long-range outlook.
“Our fans have been calling on us to really go at it next year. And I offer my sincere apologies that we will be unable to fulfil their expectations.”
Toyoda said he visited last month’s Japanese grand prix and was impressed with how committed and dedicated to the team the fans were.
“I attended the Japanese Grand Prix last month at the Suzuka Circuit,” he said. “The passion of the fans was infectious. The team play displayed by our F1 team, was incredibly impressive, and our driver’s performance was genuinely stunning.”
The Toyota boss said the decision was unavoidable as it could no longer commit the necessary funding to compete in the sport.
“I have been calling for product-focused management since I became president at Toyota this June,” he said. “I have called for Toyota to concentrate on serving customers one at a time with flavorful vehicles that make them happy.
“That priority mandates a fundamental shift in resource allocation. A sad result of that shift is that we have insufficient resources to maintain a viable commitment to F1 racing.
“Economic and market conditions remain extremely trying. But adversity only heightens the importance of rethinking our proper legacy for the next generation.”