Toyota Motor Corp. announced that it is pulling out of Formula One racing, citing a need to cut costs and focus on its core business.
Toyota follows Honda Motor Co. as the second major Japanese automaker to withdraw from the sport. Honda pulled out last December amid worsening economic conditions. Brawn GP, which took over the old Honda team, won the 2009 F1 championship.
Like other Japanese exporters, Toyota is hurt by a strong yen. The dollar has recently hovered around 90 yen. Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder who became president this year, has vowed to avoid a third straight year of losses.
On Monday, Japanese tyre manufacturer Bridgestone Corp. announced it would not renew its exclusive deal to supply tires for F1 when its contract expires in 2010.
That announcement came one day after the 2009 F1 season concluded with the Abu Dhabi GP.
In July, Toyota-owned Fuji International Speedway announced it would not host the Japanese F1 GP from 2010 and beyond amid the faltering global economy.
Fellow Japanese automakers Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the World Rally Championship ahead of this season, citing concerns about the global economic crisis.
Toyota made its F1 debut in 2002 but has never won a Grand Prix. The team’s best result was in 2005 when Jarno Trulli finished second in Malaysia and Bahrain.
Despite a promising start to the 2009 season, Toyota finished fifth in the constructors’ standings.
Trulli and Timo Glock raced for Toyota this season. Trulli finished eighth in the driver standings and Glock was 10th. Kamui Kobayashi filled in for an injured Glock in the last race of the season and posted a sixth-place finish at Abu Dhabi.