The team issued a written statement stating, "Toyota are committed to succeeding in Formula One for the long-term and our objective in Formula One is to win - we exist to win and we are committed to doing that." The clarity of the point leaves little wiggle room for interpretation, despite the words of a team member at the Chinese Grand Prix just a week ago.
Speaking at the F1 Grand Prix in Shanghai, Toyota representative Tadashi Tamashina said, "We would like to go to Le Mans. The final decision for Le Mans depends on the budget. Under the present economic conditions, it is unlikely that Formula 1 and Le Mans can be done in parallel. It is an either-or situation." The rising likelihood of a spec-engine in F1 would drive Toyota from the sport, Yamashina added, according to Auto Motor & Sport.
Earlier this month Max Mosley proposed to do just that for the 2010-2012 seasons, but a meeting in Geneva last week between the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) and the FIA resulted in a cost-cutting agreement that obviates the spec-engine shift before 2010. After 2010, however, the window remains open.
Le Mans isn't without its own rules changes and drama, however. New chassis and engine rules are to come into effect in the 2011 season. Already Honda, which competes in both Le Mans and F1, has begun implementing hybrid solutions in its Le Mans cars, but the lessons Toyota learns in F1 next year with its own hybrid systems could translate to the Le Mans series with little loss in R&D value.
Toyota already has a great deal of experience in endurance racing thanks to its involvement in the Rolex Grand Am series through its Lexus motorsports program, plus two years of Le Mans GT1 entries in the late 1990s, so a move to return to Le Mans racing as part of its scope of operations would not be out of the question, though as Tamashina pointed out, doing so simultaneously to an F1 program would be prohibitively expensive. Whether that logic thereby rules out a return to Le Mans racing for the team is now as unclear as Toyota's future in F1 was just last week.