Toyota pulls out

Toyota has this morning announced that it is pulling out of F1 with immediate effect.

It cites the global economic downturn as the reason for the withdrawal, after posting the company’s first ever operating loss back in March.

It comes as something of a shock, but not really a surprise, as there had been speculation since that March announcement that the team would not stay in the sport.

Its drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were both already believed to have found seats with other teams before the announcement.

Although this leaves a large question mark over rookie Kamui Kobayashi, who impressed with his two strong races at the end of the season. Has he done enough to impress other teams? I’d say yes he has.

We got on the blower to BBC Sport’s Martin Brundle to see what he thought about the Toyota situation.

“Toyota leaving F1 in the slipstream of Honda and BMW is very disappointing but not a total surprise. It did seem Toyota had committed to the new lower cost F1, but not signing drivers and switching off customer engine supply gave an indication of their potential exit,” he says.

“I was more shocked by Bridgestone’s announcement to depart after next year, that’s a challenge for F1. Ironically Toyota’s exit clears the way for Sauber to have a 2010 entry and it seems we will have more cars on the grid next year than 2009.”

Maybe Kobayashi will find a drive with the BMW-less Sauber team, given first reserve place on the 2010 grid should another team decide not to turn up.

Following Honda’s withdrawal at the end of last season, there is now no Japanese manufacturer left in F1, but could Renault also be about to follow suit?

The French manufacturer is holding an extraordinary board meeting this afternoon to discuss its future, although it seems more likely than Toyota to stay, having recently signed Robert Kubica as replacement for Fernando Alonso.

However, should it decide to simply supply engines next season – Red Bull has already confirmed it will be sticking with Renault as engine supplier in 2010 – and a buyer for the team already secured, it’s possible Renault could go the way of Toyota and Honda.

If the disgraced Briatore can overturn the FIA’s motorsport ban, maybe Flavio F1 Racing will be on the grid next year? Now that would be a shock.

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