As sports go, you can’t get more specialized than Formula 1 racing. Built completely around machines, it is a team endeavor that goes beyond pit crews to embrace entire engineering staffs and, theoretically, whole automotive companies.

The idea behind F-1 racing is both very simple and very expensive: to create the fastest car in the world. Toyota, Japan’s biggest car company, had not participated in the sweepstakes until this past year. The reason for the sudden interest is a desire to finally enter the European market in a big way. Other Japanese car companies, mainly Nissan, have successfully made inroads into the continent, but Toyota has concentrated on the domestic and American markets. F-1 is as much about PR as it is about sport or technology, and Europe is where the races get the most attention. Toyota’s main purpose in becoming an F-1 contender is to boost its brand image and, eventually, increase its European market share.

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