Toyota to stop hosting F1 at Fuji

by Hiroko Nakata

Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary Fuji International Speedway Co. said Tuesday it will stop hosting the annual Formula One Japanese Grand Prix car race.

The step comes amid Toyota’s continued cost-cutting after it slipped deep into the red for the business year that ended in March. It is expecting a group operating loss of ¥850 billion and a net loss ¥550 billion this business year for its second straight year of red ink.

The automaker said it will continue to participate in Formula One racing.

Toyota bought out Fuji International Speedway, located in Shizuoka Prefecture, in November 2000 and hosted the grand prix there in 2007 and 2008. The auto giant has spent more than ¥20 billion to renovate the race course.

“It is (with) heartrending grief that we are forced to make such a decision only three years after we announced in March 2006 the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix,” Fuji International Speedway President Hiroaki Kato told reporters in Tokyo.

The Suzuka circuit in Mie Prefecture, run by a subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., is the venue for this year’s Japanese grand prix, while Fuji was scheduled to hold the race in 2010. Honda said this year’s race is still on as well as the one in 2011. Nothing beyond that has been decided.

In December, Honda announced it was quitting Formula One racing to focus on its core business of making and selling cars. It also is pulling its motorcycle team out of the Suzuka 8 Hours World Endurance Championship Race.