Well, we held our breath and crossed our fingers but the axe in the end didn't come down on Toyota's F1 programme, did it? Going into Toyota's year-end press conference in Nagoya, there was the very real possibility that Toyota would abruptly pull down the shutters on F1 in the wake of the global economic crisis that's decimated both Toyota's sales and profits.
Honda fell on its sword in F1 in the weeks before and cancelled the NSX. Subaru and Suzuki both quit the World Rally Championship. Japanese motorsport was taking one knock after another. Nobody would have been too surprised if Toyota has axed F1 and the LF-A supercar as well. These after all are truly extraordinary times. In the end, Toyota said it remained committed to F1 and it was the Boxer engined Toyobaru sports car project with Subaru that got delayed.
Toyota will never come out and say this, but there is part of its psyche that just doesn't want to do what others have done. So if Honda has decided to pull out of F1, that's all the more reason for Toyota to stay in, to show who really has The Power around here. Despite saying it will report an operating loss for the year to March 09, Toyota is still a fantastically rich operation, one with a lot of pride. It's been in F1 since 2002 and still not won a race. That understandably has copped it a lot of flak.
Under the current circumstances, though, I just think it's a real result for us enthusiasts that Toyota still wants to be part of Bernie's circus. You never know, staying in for 2009 would win Toyota a whole new batch of fans. When the chips were down, it didn't blink....