Toyota's decision to leave Formula One comes as no real surprise. The company is struggling with unprecedented financial losses, not to mention an 'unintended acceleration' issue which is concentrated (so far) in the United Litigious States.
Like Honda last year, Toyota simply couldn't afford to keep funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars annually into a project that never recorded a single victory in eight years of competition.
It was proof if more proof were needed that while "there is no substitute for cubic dollars" is an important mantra in car racing, it isn't the only factor, witness the ability of Ross Brawn to take the ashes of the Honda team and turn it almost literally overnight into a World Champion outfit.
Can some smart guy take the shattered remains of Toyota's F1 project and replicate Brawn's Phoenix-like story?
I doubt it.
The Toyota engine was at various times among the most powerful and fastest in the field, so maybe there is some potential there. But the pace of F1 engine development is such that yesterday's pole-sitter is tomorrow's boat anchor, and without Toyota's engine development facilities and bottomless pit of cash, it's hard to see how this could work.
I'm sure many post-mortems will be conducted on why Toyota failed, when outfits like Red Bull, for example, came from approximately nowhere to succeed.
Choosing yesterday-men (or never-men) like Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella as their number one drivers didn't help.
Changing the Top Dude every couple of years didn't help either. They started with Ove Anderssen, who had stickhandled many of Toyota's World Rally Championship successes. Having a rally guy run your F1 team might seem odd, but it didn't stop Jean Todt from winning a boatload of titles for Ferrari.
Anderssen lasted two years, but it seems Toyota changed their Top Dude every two years after that, and they never got the continuity that seems necessary to develop a successful squad.
Locating the team in Cologne Germany, rather than closer to Toyota's Headquarters in Japan, or in the nexus of F1 development in the British Midlands, also didn't help. Again, Ferrari is the only team which succeeds on its own, but Ferrari is Ferrari, and even many of their top players are British-Midlands-sourced.
Including, of course, Ross Brawn, who with Todt, South African Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher, forged one of the greatest F1 dynasties of all time.
With Honda, Toyota and BMW gone, and Renault on the verge, the era of factory-supported F1 teams seems over. Mercedes-Benz continues its association with various teams, with McLaren being their semi-factory outfit. They also supply engines to the likes of Brawn, to the obvious benefit of both companies, and appear set to buy a majority interest in that team.
Ferrari is of course part of Italian mega-car maker Fiat, but they existed as a racing organization long before they got bought out, and they operate pretty much independently.
There are many F1 fans who don't see this as a Bad Thing. Car company marketing plans and budgets come and go; someone like Frank Williams - well, all he does is racing, and you KNOW he'll be fielding a team next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
The last couple of F1 seasons have actually produced some great racing, with the championships coming down to (almost) the wire.
Now it's back to 'privateers'. A couple of new teams are scheduled to line up in Melbourne Australia next spring. Toyota's departure also re-opens the door to Swiss-based Sauber, which now without the benefit/albatross of BMW involvement, has an opportunity to return.
May the best team win.