Despite the continuing protestations of team manager John Hewitt, yet another sign that Toyota will be finished with F1 at season’s end came today when Williams and the Japanese manufacturer mutually agreed to terminate their engine agreement for 2010.
Earlier this year, Williams and Toyota had extended that agreement but it all came apart today.
The Associated Press reports Toyota Motorsport chairman Tadashi Yamashina as saying this morning: ``We respect the wishes of Williams to look for other opportunities and wish them well for the future.’’
The now-expected pullout by Toyota will leave Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and Cosworth as the only F1 engine suppliers going forward. And people close to Renault say that although the marque has vowed to be on the grid for 2010, even that could be dicey and 2011 is far, far from certain.
Despite what some people say – that it really doesn’t matter – it does. Formula One is the ultimate competition between the best drivers, the top engineers and all the major manufacturers and when that level of excellence goes into decline, it can only negatively impact the product.
Rock stars, royalty and anybody else with millions of dollars in their pockets are attracted to F1 because it is dangerous, romantic and the most expensive sport in the world. Only the Olympics compares.
As long as F1 can sell itself as this ultimate attraction, the beautiful people will continue to show up. Otherwise, it’ll be just another “spec” series and the jet set will take a pass.
In another piece of F1 news, much as been made of the announcement late last week that Monaco had agreed to move its traditional date in May to allow logistical flexibility that would get the Canadian Grand Prix back onto the schedule.
You will note, however, that no formal announcement of the race has been forthcoming from Montreal. I, for one, will wait before getting too excited about all this.