Jarno Trulli during practice at the 2009 Japanese GPEnlarge Photo
Toyota Motor Corporation confirmed officially on Wednesday its decision to pull out of Formula One with immediate effect. Given that the team was told it had "two more years" for success in December 2007--a deadline that has come and gone without a race win, despite a generally strong showing this season--the decision perhaps ought to be unsurprising.
"Based on the current economic environment, we realize we have no choice but to withdraw," said the Japanese carmaker's president Akio Toyoda at a news conference in Tokyo. The economic situation actually put even this season's run in doubt, with the team boss commenting on the near-cancellation this March.
The decision to pull out of F1 could mean that up to 550 Toyota F1 employees will be out of a job, however.
A Toyota staff member told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine that, following the announcement of the carmaker's withdrawal from F1, he heard rumours that only 150 employees will remain at Cologne for the next racing project.
About 700 staff currently work on the team's F1 engine and chassis programs in Junkersdorf, in the west of Cologne.
One option for the withdrawing owners of F1 teams is to sell the operation as a going concern, but team president John Howett said on Wednesday that he believes Toyota Motorsport GmbH will instead be scaled down in order to participate in "grassroots motor sport."