A couple of days ago tyre manufacturer Bridgestone announced it will not be renewing its contract to supply Formula 1 after their current deal expires at the end of the 2010 season. [BBC]
Then this morning Toyota confirmed that it is pulling out of Formula 1 racing after posting its worst financial loss. [BBC] The BBC article says:
Toyota’s withdrawal leaves the sport with no Japanese team after Honda left F1 at the start of the 2009 season. They become the third manufacturer to quit the sport in the last 11 months after BMW announced it was leaving in July.
Well, it could be four! Renault just announced they will decide whether to remain in the sport with its own team, switch to simply being an engine supplier or quit altogether. [BBC]
Both Toyota and Renault are citing financial reasons but Bridgestone were quite clear that their rationale is “looking more at where tyre demand needs to be focused”, i.e. they’ve achieved the impact they wanted through F1 and now it’s time to look elsewhere.
I wonder how many teams will make it to the grid for the first race in 2010 (which is Bahrain, March 12-14) – there are 13 teams signed up for next year; Toyota will likely be replaced by Sauber, but I wonder what will happen to Renault’s spot if they decide to withdraw. Fortunately there are other teams keen to get in to F1, so we should still see a 26 car grid.