Former Toyota F1 Team principal Tadashi Yamashina has claimed that Formula One has become far too elitist for its own good.
The man formerly charged with leading Toyota’s bid in F1, says that the sport did not allow the fans to get close enough to it for it to be a viable advertising option for a manufacturer. He cited this as one of the many reasons why the Japanese manufacturer, who have recently had serious struggles with their road cars, to be one of the reasons why Toyota pulled out of F1 at the end of last season.
“There is a big gap between Formula 1 and Toyota’s actual car users,” Yamashina told Automotive News. “F1 remains the pinnacle of auto racing, but its image grew too elitist.
“At races such as Nurburgring [24 Hours], fans can get right into [the] pitlane, mingle with the teams and touch the cars. They can soak up the atmosphere and feel part of the event. By contrast, average fans have no hope of strolling the paddock at an F1 race. For the fortunate few who can afford to do that, it’s fine.
“I think the best kind of races are those in which people can get in close to the race.”
Toyota officials will be at a round of the WTCC to continue rumours that they will be entering some form of touring car championship soon. DTM is also set to be courted as Lexus may enter in 2011 under the new Super GT rules which the series is likely to follow. Former F1 team BMW have confirmed they will be competing in the German race series also.
The news I broke yesterday on the blog has turned out to be true, the Toyota F1 Team are pulling out of the sport and will not be present on the grid at the first race of the season in 2010.
There had been rumours of a move out of F1, when the company saw its first ever loss in profits. Also signs when Fuji Speedway, their circuit, was dropped from the calendar. Although signing up to the concorde agreement stating they would be present until 2012, no-one really thought it would be true, and the team would be pulling out at the end of 2010 after operating the season with a reduced budget.
Where the team goes from here is unknown, it could turn into a satellite operation, an independent team via management buy out, or even possibly become the new Sauber team.
The long official statement from Toyota’s Chief Executive’s read:
“Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces it plans to withdraw from the FIA Formula 1 world championship at the end of the 2009 season,”
“TMC, which had viewed its participation in F1 as contributing to the prosperity of automotive culture, remained dedicated to competing at the pinnacle of motor sports even in the face of the abrupt economic changes that started last year.
“However, when considering TMC’s motorsports actitives next year and beyond from a comprehensive mid-term viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1″
“TMC also wants to express its heartfelt gratitude to all Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers to date and to all Toyota Motorsport GmbH employees who have helped make the team’s achievements possible,” said the statement.
“TMC intends to do its best to find a solution for those parties who will be affected by any inconvenience this decision may cause.”
“In motorsports, [Toyota] will not only race in various categories, but will also actively contribute to further development of motorsports by supporting grassroots races and planning events in which it is easy for people to participate.”
Toyota Team Profile
|Debut Race||2002 Australian Grand Prix|
|Final Race||2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix|
|Notable Drivers||Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, Mika Salo, Olivier Panis, Cristiano Da Matta|
Everyone likes to see the “under-dogs” do well at some point, and following on from Force India’s epic weekend in Spa, where they had the fastest car and scored a second place finish on the back of pole position we look back at some fine performances from the minnows from the late 1990′s through to 2008!
1996 Monaco Grand Prix – Olivier Panis
It was a wet morning before the Monaco Grand Prix and changeable weather conditions were a possibility. In the warm-up pre-race Andrea Montermini crashed his Forti and wouldn’t make the start of the Grand Prix. Jos Verstappen hit the wall within moments of the race start as he was on slicks. After just 5 laps there were only 13 cars remaining with Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Ukyo Katayama, Ricardo Rosset and Pedro Diniz all retiring through incident.
Gerhard Berger then retired, and Martin Brundle spun. Heinz Harald Frentzen lost his nosecone and ended up well down the field. At Lowes hairpin, Olivier Panis managed to muscle his way passed Eddie Irvine in the Ferrari. Irvine lost control and was getting out of the car when the Ferrari engine coughed back into life for him. Jean Alesi took an impromptu lead but lost it when his suspension failed. Jacques Villeneuve retired when he was in an incident with Luca Badoer in the Forti who was some 6 laps DOWN on the leaders.
Olivier Panis took his first and only Formula One victory after the two hour limit was passed, it was Ligier’s final victory also and their first for 15 years in the sport. True underdog stuff.
1997 Hungarian Grand Prix – Damon Hill & Shinya Nakano
Damon Hill, despite being world champion was driving for the very uncompetitive Arrows Yamaha team and had been experiencing a shocking season. However in Hungary, the Bridgestone tyres the team used were working well and after qualifying 3rd, Hill managed to lead the race after making a daring move down the inside of Michael Schumacher. He lead for the majority of the race but ended up finishing second after a throttle linkage failure. The failure was caused by a small washer, valued at only 50pence but it took away Arrows’ first ever win. It would be their last podium finish.
Also worth noting in Shinya Nakano’s performance here to 6th place, where he managed to score a single point!
1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Jordan’s 1-2
Eddie Jordan’s team had always been there or thereabouts at the top of the tables, but this race really put them on the map.
In the rain at Spa Francorchamps there was a huge incident between the La Source hairpin and Eau Rouge with almost every single car in the field involved. It was caused by David Coulthard losing control, and with terrible spray and mist other drivers piled in at full speed. Without enough spare cars, many did not restart the race and those that did ended up in accidents themselves with just 8 cars finishing the event, and last placed Shinya Nakano was 5 laps down…at Spa!
Still a brilliant performance from both Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher led to the team getting a 1-2 finish and sending Eddie Jordan into eclectic jubliation.
1999 European Grand Prix – Minardi Points; Stewart 1-3
After a fairly large incident on the first corner taking out two cars this was a pretty crazy Grand Prix all in. When the rain came it just added to everyone’s problems and cars were spinning off the track all ways. The standard amount of mechanical problems added into the mix too led to both Minardi’s being in the points. Disaster struck the story late on when Luca Badoer retired from 4th place with mechanical problems but his team mate Marc Gene managed 6th and a solitary point which was as ever incredibly vital for the team. However, in recent years it has been suggested that Gene changed the champion of that season, had he been passed by Irvine then Eddie could have won the World Championship by a single point. But he did not, and Mika Hakkinen took his second and final title.
Worth noting also that Jackie Stewart’s team got a 1-3 finish in the race. But Minardi were even more of an underdog than Stewart!!
2003 Brazilian Grand Prix – Fisichella Shines In The Rain
Rain hit the Brazilian GP, and the drains on track couldn’t cope with the monsoon conditions. With standing water all over the place, many crashed around turn 3 including some of the big names such as Michael Schumacher. Coy pitting allowed Giancarlo Fisichella up the front of the pack and he completed a beautiful pass over Kimi Raikkonen to take the lead moments before Mark Webber had a huge crash coming into the main straight. The safety car came out and Fisichella dived into the pits giving Raikkonen the lead again. When Fernando Alonso had a huge shunt in the same place just moments later the race was red flagged and Raikkonen handed the win.
However in the days following the race, it was discovered the leader from the last full lap won the race and that was Giancarlo Fisichella! He was belatedly handed the trophy at the San Marino Grand Prix a few weeks later.
2005 United States Grand Prix
When Ralf Schumacher had another crash at Indianapolis, Michelin realised their tyres were not up to the job of the circuit and moments before the race started they asked the Michelin running cars to pull into the garages post formation lap.
They did so, and we were left with just 6 Bridgestone tyre runners to complete the USGP. There were shocking scenes that day, but it allowed Jordan and Minardi to score many points and indeed Tiago Montiero to take his first and only podium finish.
2008 Italian Grand Prix – Vettel Wins For What Was Minardi!
Sebastian Vettel was drafted into Toro Rosso late in 2007 and showed great promise as a driver. When the Italian GP came, adverse weather allowed the young driver to put his car on pole, from there he strolled home in the terribly wet conditions while others lost their heads. Vettel delivered Toro Rosso a win, the team that used to be Minardi and indeed before the big brother Red Bull team even got one!
Luciano Burti, a former F1 driver who is probably best known for his huge accident at the 2001 German Grand Prix, or even at the Belgian Grand Prix of the same season has called on the FIA to increase helmet safety even further.
Burti, a fellow Brazilian race driver of Massa’s crashed heavily at the Belgian GP of 2001, when he clashed with Eddie Irvine of Jaguar and his Prost was embedded deep into the tyre wall. His helmet was badly damaged, much more so than Massa’s and left him with a brain concussion – pretty much why his F1 career came to an end so quickly.
Burti admitted that Carbon Fibre helmets have proven to be stronger in Massa’s case, however Burti cites his visor being in-tact because of 4 screws whereas Massa’s collapsed because it is only held by 2 screws to save on weight. Luciano wants the FIA to make 4 screws compulsory.
“After Felipe’s accident at the Hungaroring, I can see the helmet’s evolution since my accident in the Belgium GP 2001,” said Burti, who now commentates on F1 for Brazilian TV.
“Looking at the pictures of my helmet, we can see that if it was made of carbon fibre, like they are today, the damage would have been be less significant.
“This shows the merit of the FIA and helmet constructors on improving drivers’ safety.
“But at the same time, I would like to point something out. You can see on my helmet, even with the strong front impact against the tyre barriers, the visor remained attached because it was fixed by four screws, different than most helmets which have two screws only for visor fixing (to reduce weight).
“But on Felipe’s accident, we could see the visor became loose because the screw didn’t resist the strong impact, and with the face exposed, he could have suffered worse consequences, especially on the face and eyes.”
Luciano Burti came to Formula One in 2000, racing a single GP with the Jaguar team finishing in 11th place. The team signed him as a driver for 2001, but he was fired after just 5 races. He managed to secure a seat at Prost however when Gaston Mazzacane was released, and Burti continued racing. After the Belgian GP crash he never raced an F1 car again competitively, but worked as a test driver with Ferrari until 2004 when he conceded his injuries were too bad for him to race again.
Peter Sauber, the former team principal of the well liked Sauber team, which ran in F1 until 2005 when he sold the team to BMW has told a popular newspaper that he is trying to save the team and create a rescue package.
Sauber is working alongside BMW man Mario Theissen as they attempt to make a resuce package. Sauber himself said he didn’t want to be the boss again, but is considering a Ross Brawn style Honda buyout as a possibility.
He called on Switzerland to save the team that is based in Hinwil.
“I will do everything humanly possible,” Sauber was quoted on Bild‘s website as saying. “I can’t do wonders and I certainly do not want to be team boss on the pitwall again.
“The problem is that time is short and we need to find a solution quickly.”
“I’ve told all my people that I will use all my contacts, but I can’t guarantee anything. I am an advisor to BMW but ultimately only they can decide how to drive it forward.”
“The best solution would be a Ross Brawn-type solution at Honda,” he said. “You need at least ten years to amass a team which can produce a F1 car to the level required and if we let this team fall apart the chances are that Switzerland will never again have such an opportunity.”
Sir Jack Brabham and his family are taking legal action against the new F1 team which is to use the classic Brabham moniker.
Sir Jack, a former racer and owner of the tema bearing his namesake claims he has had no consultation whatsoever of the team being re-entered.
The team name is owned by a German called Franz Himmler, who bought a lot of Super Aguri’s assets and is a well known racing supporter.
The statement read: “Sir Jack Brabham and the Brabham family have expressed their surprise at the recent news reporting that an entry has been submitted for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship by Formtech with the intention of operating as Brabham Grand Prix Limited.
“The family would like to make it clear that they are in no way involved with Brabham Grand Prix Limited and received no consultation regarding the company’s plans to resurrect their historic name in Formula One.
“The family is taking legal advice and will take necessary steps to protect their name, reputation and its goodwill.”
Today marks the 15th anniversary since the legendary Brazilian driver, Ayrton Senna lost his life in an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix – Imola.
On this anniversary, F1Fanatics posts this as a mark of respect to a 3 time world champion and rival to Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher amongst other great racers.
the PKF Insolvency company have revealed that the Honda Motor Company stopped them selling the Super Aguri Formula One Team as a going concern as they looked to re-coup their losses immediately.
Super Aguri was formed in 2006 by Aguri Suzuki, and had a lot of backing from Honda. Despite good results in the 2007 season, during 2008 the Leafield based team went into administration and PKF were called in.
They formed a model which showed the sale, and indeed had someone ready to purchase. Smaller level investors of the team were happy to see the sale go through, but Honda, who were thought to have many millions invested said no.
PKF are now looking to recoup losses of $400,000 in fees, which Honda refuse to pay.
“Any insolvency practitioner will say that (administration) was the only route for Super Aguri as there were buyers for it,” said PKF partner Philip Long.
“Honda didn’t want Super Aguri exposed to the marketplace,” he added. “Smaller unsecured creditors voted for our proposals and fees”
Christian Klien, Paul Stoddart and former F1 driver Zsolt Baumgartner have done their bit to help lift the spirits of those affected by the major Australian bushfires ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season.
Many people died in the blazes, some natural and some started by heartless arsonists. Thousands have been left homeless.
Christian Klien demonstrated a BMW Sauber through the packed streets of Kinglake before Paul Stoddart allowed some of those affected the opportunity to have a passenger ride in his two seat Minardi F1 car, driven by Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner.
Speaking about his experience afterwards, Klien said: “We saw on the news back in Europe what happened with the fires, and I flew there this morning by helicopter and you could see what happened to the land there.
“It was nice to bring the people up there a bit of happiness and to run our Formula 1 car there. You really could see the smiles on the faces of the kids, and it was a really nice thing to do.”
The four time F1 world champion Alain Prost has called for calm within the F1 paddock, telling te teams and bosses to think rather than panic in the world economic crisis.
“I prefer people who say ‘let’s think’ rather than ‘let’s stop’. Honda aside, I don’t think there is panic,” he said in Paris.
“In F1, everyone is in the same boat with having to reduce budgets, and in the last ten years I had never seen F1 with such an abundance of resources,” Prost continued.
Prost, who drove for top teams including Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren believes that F1′s golden age of overtaking and close racing has gone, and it is now a golden age of safety.
“There is less overtaking and more strategy. Everything happens on the pitwall and the drivers just go.”
“We had to save the brakes and the gearboxes, and monitor fuel consumption, but now it has all been organised by the starting grid,” Prost said.
“I experienced the golden age, but there were crashes, deaths. The drivers today are in a golden age of safety.”
Bernie Ecclestone reckons that Honda won’t be a huge loss to Formula One as a sport, citing their serious spending as ‘wasteful’.
The 78 year old veteran of Formula One thinks they set a bad example to F1 teams by spending an absolute fortune and ending up pretty much nowhere, 9th in the constructors championship in 2008.
They were much more successful as an engine manufacturer, and through Mugen their tuning company partner.
“Honda will be no great loss,” he said at the London boutique Moussaieff, where he was promoting an event involving his daughter Tamara.
“Just look at where they finished in the championship – ninth. They wasted millions and were a bad example to other teams.”
“In Formula One, teams come and go. It’s not the end of the world. Only Ferrari has been there since the start.”
“Now they’ve gone, we’ve got a chance to bring in some sense to the teams about how much they should spend.”
Meanwhile he told the Telegraph newspaper that a buyer for the team should be unveiled within the week.
He said: “I’m keen for the team to be kept in place. We have whittled it down to three serious potential buyers.”
Former F1 driver, and successful sportscar racer Jos Verstappen could be facing a jail sentence if he is found guilty of assault and harrassment when he appears in a Dutch court this week.
The 36 year old racer, who spent time in F1 with Benetton, Minardi and Arrows to name a few has recently bveen racing in Le Mans series.
He admitted to a court that he was having relationship problems with his wife, former karting racer Sophie Kumpen, but believed legal proceedings were one step too far.
Kumpen claims he harrassed her and their children, sent threatening text messages, assaulted her and slashed the tyres of her car.
Ross Brawn and Alex Wurz have both claimed they are unconcerned about their futures in the wake of the Honda F1 Teams demise.
While Nick Fry is furiously searching for a buyer, who we believe will be David Richards using an Arabian backer, Ross BRawn is much more chilled out about the whole matter. He is very disappointed to have lost the team, a team he only joined 12 months ago after very successful times in F1 with Ferrari and Benetton, and also in sportscar racing, but if he doesn’t get another job he is going to go and enjoy himself.
Ross told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: “If the team has to close, I’ll just go fishing for a year, which is my hobby anyway.”
MEanwhile test driver Alex Wurz, himself now 37 and having had a fairly successful racing career which ended with Williams last season, taking home a podium in the process admits he isn’t going to furiously search for a job.
” I will look for another seat for sure, probably test not race, but I will probably not seek it with full power.” Wurz told APA
Honda Racing Europe have been quick to come out and claim that Honda will not be quitting MotoGP as part of the overall scaling back operation by the Japanese manufacturer.
The scaling back of operations has led to the Formula One team being shut down, but Honda will continue to fund their MotoGP team in the wake of today’s shock revelations.
The Repsol Honda team admit that they, along with the other MotoGP teams need to bring costs under control in the sport to keep it running successfully.
“The decision to pull out of F1 does not affect the other forms of motorsport Honda are involved in,” Paul Ormond, Honda Racing Europe’s spokeman told Autosport.
“We will be looking at reducing our costs, as we’re sure other teams will be doing too, in MotoGP and other motorcycle activities.”
GP2 Champion Giorgio Pantano has admitted he is still waiting to hear if he has a position within an F1 team next year.
The Italian raced with Jordan in 2004, a little unsuccessful but since then he has tried to get back to the premiere of motorsport, flirting with IRL/ChampCar and racing in GP2.
If Pantano is not recruited then he would be the first GP2 champion to be completly shunned by F1.
“I knew this was my last chance to go back to Formula One,” Pantano, told the French sports newspaper L’Equipe.
“I am still waiting for some answers, but I will not wait forever, because I have to ensure my career as a professional driver has a precise direction,”
Rumours have it that the BBC is going to offer flambouyant former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan a position on its presenting team.
The 60 year old, who sold the Jordan team and pulled out of motorsport at the end of 2005, has never been short of an opinion or two and would certainly light up the discussion.
Jordan, who since his team has written for F1 Racing and presented a programme “Eddie Jordan’s Bad Boy Racers” has declined to comment, but the Daily Express has been told he has been selected for his expertise on and off the circuit.
It is likely he will join Martin Brundle and David Coulthard who have reportedly been recruited to present.
Former Renault aerodynamics director Dino Toso has passed away, losing his long battle with cancer which was diagnosed in 2004.
Toso, a Dutch/Italian man joined F1 in 1997 after working with aeroplanes and sportscars with the Jordan Grand Prix team. At the end of the 2000 season he joined Renault with Mike Gasocoyne, and when Gascoyne left he was promoted to Chief Aerodynamist.
Toso helped Renault to 2 drivers titles and 2 constructors titles in 2005 and 2006.
A statement from the Renault F1 team said: “His contribution to the team, both through his results and his courage in the face of illness, are an inspiration. He will be missed enormously and the immediate thoughts of the whole team are with his family.”
We send our condolences to his family. R.I.P.
Super Aguri F1 Team have officially withdrawn from Formula One after a series of financial problems and failed attempts to save the team.
The team, which joined F1 in 2006 have withdrawn with immediate effect.
Magma Group looked set to help the ailing team, who were lacking finances after the 2007 title sponsor did not pay their advertising fees. Their attempt fell through at the last hurdle, and after Honda claimed they could not support two teams, Weigl Group tried to buy Aguri but it was not a good enough offer.
Official Statement From Aguri Suzuki himself:
“In order to realise my dream to become an owner of a Formula One team, I applied for a grid position in the FIA Formula One World Championship in November 2005,”
“Since then, I have participated in the championship for two years and four months as the Super Aguri F1 Team, but regretfully I must inform you that the team will cease their racing activities as of today.”
“The team competed against the many car manufacturer-backed teams and have succeeded in obtaining the first points after only the 22nd race finishing in ninth place overall in the 2007 constructors’ championship.
“However, the breach of contract by the promised partner SS United Oil & Gas Company resulted in the loss of financial backing and immediately put the team into financial difficulties. Also, the change in direction of the environment surrounding the team, in terms of the use of customer chassis, has affected our ability to find partners.
“Meanwhile, with the help of Honda, we have somehow managed to keep the team going, but we find it difficult to establish a way to continue the activities in the future within the environment surrounding F1 and as a result, I have concluded to withdraw from the championship.
“I would like to express my deepest thanks to Honda, Bridgestone, the sponsors, all the people who have given us advise during various situations over the past couple of years all the Team Staff who have kept their motivations high and always done their best, Anthony Davidson who has always pushed to the limit despite the very difficult conditions, Takuma Sato who has been with us from the very start and has always fought hard and led the team and lastly our fans from all over the world who have loyally supported the Super Aguri F1 Team.”
Honda’s Statement read:
“Honda has continued to support the team as much as possible but Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal has come to Honda and expressed his decision to withdraw from Formula One as he is not capable of establishing a foundation for independent operation of the team,”
“The Super Aguri F1 Team’s withdrawal is indeed very disappointing for us but we understand that it was inevitable unless the team could find a way to stand alone by itself in the future.
“We would like to express our thankfulness to the Super Aguri F1 Team and all the fans who have supported them for sharing the dreams and fighting together with Honda.”
What a terrible shame to see another team leave. Only last week, i commented to a friend that i felt Aguri had become like Prost, a former racer who looked to be on the right track losing out because of a lack of sponsorship. The biggest question now is, who is going to fill the extra place? Prodrive didn’t start, so F1 has 2 empty spots.
Look Out for a special article on SUPER AGURI – coming soon!
Eddie Jordan has blocked the main entrance road into his former Jordan factory at Silverstone in a dispute over land ownership.
The Irishman owned the plot at the home of the British Grand Prix until 2005 when he sold his team onto Midland F1, who sold onto Spyker who sold onto Vijay Mallya of Force India.
Jordan claims that the access road is going across land he technically still owns, as when he sold to Midland he didn’t sell all of his land, and wants something done about it, either for it to be demolished or purchased off him legally.
He has stepped in and placed huge pieces of concrete across the road, and is leaving them there until the bosses talk to him. He claims to have been waiting 2 years for something to be done.
“I had to make a stand, they have to come and talk to me,” he told Reuters.
“I paid for the road and put it on my land.”
“I’ve got no problem with Mallya. It’s the people who are managing the business who don’t want to talk.”
Former Formula One test driver Sergei Zlobin has been hurt in a car bomb attack in Russia. It was an attempted murder attack against him.
The Russian driver was nearly killed when a device detonated under his Mercedes Benz SUV.
The police of Russia have announced they will begin immediate inquiries into this attack, which left Zlobin shaken, and his Mercedes vehicle a clear right-off.
Zlobin told Russia Today “I started the car then reversed about a metre and heard the explosion under my feet. The floor blasted open. I got out of the car and saw that it wasn’t on fire then called the police. Nothing extraordinary there, I just feel sorry about the car. I am very lucky that my legs are fine because the floor was badly damaged.”
He tested for the failing Minardi team in 2002 as part of a contract deal with Russian gas/oil giant Gazprom.