It is still vivid in my memory. Mr Yamashina, the principal of Toyota’s F1 team, was crying at the press conference on TV screen. I had probably never seen a man crying so painfully. More than the sheer white of luxurious boats in Monaco harbour or reflecting sparkles in a Champaign glass, I remember the man trying to apologise for something.
2008 Autumn, the world economy crushed and everything collapsed in a moment like a blink. World auto makers announced the axe one after another. JPY to GBP went up more than double and all the Japanese exporters suffered from the change in economic climate. One year after, Toyota pulled out of F1.
F1 is an ego, prestige and a dream. Perhaps a vain dream. Toyota, like many other world top manufacturers, dreamed of the honour to stand on a podium of the supreme Motorsport and competed bravely. However, they were defeated before the fall of world economy.
Motorsport is, in Japan, not as popular as in Europe. It seems to be linked to dangerous accidents, old dirty energy and aristocratic pastime. It is not accepted as a beautiful, legendary and supreme sport. With these notorious images, Japanese manufacturers couldn’t justify its position in the highest and most expensive category of the sport.
In 2012, however, Toyota came back to the world highest stage of Motorsport with hybrid car. This time, not F1, but World Endurance Championship. Including legendary Le Mans, it’s the best endurance race in the world. And more than anything else, the concept of the fastest car with clean energy is advancing the time’s demand.
I still believe and proud that Japanese manufacturers make the best consumer cars in the world just like proven in car reliability surveys. The best manufacturer’s racing car should win a podium of world’s supreme Motorsport.
New technology, new energy, changing racing cars. I can’t want to see the new challenge of Toyota at 2013 World Endurance Championship, and its state-of-art machine at the historical circuits.