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Toyota warn of possible withdrawal

Toyota team principal John Howett has dropped a major hint that the Japanese carmaker may pull out of Formula One if the FIA does not make it clear that it wants manufacturers in the sport.

FIA president Max Mosley has made no secret in recent weeks that he wants to do everything he can to help independent teams flourish in the sport, because he believes they - not the manufacturers - are its lifeblood.

And with none of the sport's current teams currently having a guarantee that they will be granted an entry to F1 in 2008, Howett has told this week's Autosport that the long-term future of Toyota is uncertain.

"It's all very unclear at the moment," he said. "Are we welcome or not? If we really are not welcome, it should be said publicly. The FIA has got to understand that we are being asked to commit to Formula One until the end of 2012 without giving any indication of whether we are wanted.

"We are prepared to commit to F1, but we need certain core values to remain. That means for example, that it has to remain the pinnacle of motorsport. Using technology doesn't always mean more cost, it can mean the opposite.

"If F1 can't remain the pinnacle, then the board will have to decide on the company's participation."

Despite the comments about Toyota's future, it appears unlikely that any withdrawal from F1 could take place before the end of 2008.

According to sources, those teams that have put forward their entry to the 2008 championship with the FIA are deemed to have signed a binding contract to commit to the series, providing they get an entry.

The 2008 entry form in the Sporting Regulations, which has been signed by those teams who have lodged an entry, states: "We confirm that we have read and understand the provisions of the International Sporting Code, the 1998 Concorde Agreement (including its Schedules), the 2008 Formula One Technical Regulations and the 2008 Formula One Sporting Regulations.

"We agree to be bound by them (as supplemented or amended) and further we agree on our own behalf and on behalf of everyone associated with our participation in the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship to observe them.

"We declare that we have examined this Entry Form and that the information given is true, correct and complete and we undertake to pay the entry fee of 300,000 (three hundred thousand Euros) to the FIA no later than 1 November 2007. "

Article 68 of the International Sporting Code makes it clear that an entry is binding between the teams and FIA - which means that any team who break the contract could be subject to punishment.

"An entry is a contract between a competitor and the organising committee (see Article 25). It can be signed by both parties or result from an exchange of correspondence.

"It compels the competitor to take part in the competition in which they have accepted to run, except in case of duly established force majeure."

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