Toyota to stop hosting Japanese Grand Prix

TOKYO: Toyota’s Fuji International Speedway gave up the hosting rights for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix in 2010 and beyond yesterday to cut costs amid the global economic downturn.

The circuit, majority held by the world’s biggest automaker, had been scheduled to alternate each year with Honda-owned Suzuka.

A Honda spokesman said it was up to Formula One organisers to decide on the fate of next year’s race, adding that Suzuka had made no decision beyond the planned hosting in 2009 and 2011.

Honda pulled out of Formula One as a team and engine provider in December.

Fees for hosting rights cost the Toyota circuit about 2bil to 3bil yen (US$20-30mil), a source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. That excludes other operational outlays such as staffing the event.

“It’s been only three years since we announced in March 2006 that we would be hosting the F1 Japanese Grand Prix,” Fuji Speedway President Hiroaki Kato said in a statement.

“That we’re making this difficult decision so soon is truly heart-wrenching,” he added.

The company’s own Formula One team, based in Germany, have yet to win a Grand Prix despite pouring money into the sport since their debut in 2002. — Reuters

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