2014 Lexus IS 350 F SportEnlarge Photo
Toyota, Lexus' parent company, owned and operated an F1 team until the end of the 2009 season, when financial losses due to the global economic situation prompted a withdrawal from the series. Lately, Toyota's closest association with F1 has been through its engineering division, Toyota Motorsport, and the occasional LFA tie-in.
Now, however, Toyota is said to be considering re-entry into F1 with its Lexus brand. According to ClubLexus, the reasons--credited to unnamed sources--are manifold.
Changes in the 2014 technical regulations, including a move to greater KERS capacity, and a complete change of engine type, apparently make re-entry more attractive.
The theory is that greater reliance on KERS will allow Toyota/Lexus to exploit its deep hybrid engineering base, and the move to 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6s will require complete re-engineering for the entire field--meaning Toyota won't be entering at any more of a disadvantage than any other team.
It's an interesting, and plausible, scenario. But without official Toyota confirmation, it's not much more than early silly season speculation. Toyota has also been rumored to be considering a return to World Rally Championship racing.
With Infiniti heavily leveraging its sponsorship of Red Bull Racing, Lexus may be looking to similarly bolster its motorsport reputation. Toyota isn't the only Japanese former F1 manufacturer potentially returning to the series, however: Honda's head of R&D, Yoshiharu Yamamoto, has said he hopes Honda will one day return to F1.
Anything, of course, is possible. But we aren't counting these particular chickens just yet.