The Grand Prix world tour (well, North America excepted) is continuing this weekend in Japan and Toyota is sending signals that it could very well be the next manufacturer to pull out of Formula One.
|Toyota drivers Timo Glock, left, and Kamui Kobayashi at a press conference ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.|
(No wonder the FIA suspended Renault’s two-year sentence for cheating because, otherwise, Mercedes and Ferrari might have been the only manufacturers remaining in 2010!)
It was bad enough when Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina told reporters that the team couldn’t talk about next year because the decision on budget hadn’t yet been made by the board of directors.
But when Toyota told driver Timo Glock this week that he was free to "look around" and make a deal somewhere else if he wanted, I suggest that team doesn’t have a future.
I mean, Glock has performed very well for Toyota this season. His second-place finish at Singapore last weekend was great stuff. And they’re telling him they don’t mind if he goes somewhere else?
You don't mind if you're closing up shop. . .
Glock, meantime, didn’t drive in the Japanese Grand Prix's first free practice session today – he came down with a "really bad cold and a fever." Toyota took advantage of this great PR opportunity by putting young GP2 driver Kamui Kobayashi in the car.
He didn’t do all that badly, either. Although he was about three seconds off the pace set by McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen, he wasn’t last on the charts. That honour went to Renault’s Romain Grosjean, the bank teller; Kobayashi was 19th.
Kazuki Nakajima in the Williams was second fastest today, with Adrian Sutil third in the Force India rocketship. Giancarlo Fisichella seems to have found his sea legs with Ferrari as he set fourth fastest time. His teammate, the fired world champion Kimi Raikkonen, was eighth.
Is Kimi pouting after being dropped by Ferrari this week in favour of Fernando Alonso for 2010? Or is he just biding his time?
Knowing Kimi, he’d love nothing more than to win the last three Grands Prix and then to give the one-finger salute to his former employer as he trots on down the road to McLaren.