Honda has been making F1 headlines for all the wrong (or right ?) reasons for weeks but in last few days Toyota has been getting rather unusual degree of attention too.
Their drivers Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli have both been confirmed for quite a while but these days nobody can take anything for granted. Grandprix.com run a short story about voices from Japan suggesting that Kamui Kobayashi (currently Toyota’s 3rd driver) may be promoted to racing seat for 2009 in expense of Jarno Trulli. The “persistent rumours” say that as a part of cost saving Toyota may disassemble the young drivers program and would need to place Kobayashi somewhere. And the good qualifier not so good racer Trulli may have to make the way. Toyota team president John Howett however says, that they have contract with Trulli in place, whatever that means.
Kobayashi is not the only Japanese driver with Toyota race drive in sight. Kazuki Nakajima, another product of Toyota’s young driver program, also sees his future with Toyota:
“Well, if Toyota perform well next year then it could very well be an option. I am quite happy with Williams, but it could be a good fit to see a Japanese driver in a Japanese team. But let’s wait and see how ’09 develops before making plans for 2010.”
Funny talk from a guy who while doing decent job hasn’t done anything really special in F1 yet, other than running over his mechanics during pit stop …
Toyota Motor Corporation also made the headlines for the wrong reasons – The Japanese car maker announced yesterday their first ever operating loss, and not a small one – 150 billion yen. This immediately casted some fresh doubts over Toyota’s F1 future but the company was quick to confirm their commitment – Katsuaki Watanabe, President of Toyota Motor Corporation:
“We continue F1 and other motorsport activities while cutting costs.”
Yoshie Matsuura, spokeperson:
“We have absolutely no plans to withdraw from Formula One. We know that [F1] is very expensive and that cost-cutting is the key to survival.”
A day later (today), Toyota announced a change of the president. Katsuaki Watanabe will be from April 2009 replaced by current vicepresident Akio Toyoda, a founding family scion. Watanabe will become vice chairman.
There are also reports that a dealer in Galway, Ireland, offers free Toyota Aygo with a purchase of Lexus. That is a decent freebie – Get a car, we give you free shopping cart with it !