Toyota must deliver to secure future
|By Edd Straw and Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, January 20th 2009, 15:47 GMT|
Toyota cannot afford to deliver an under-par performance in Formula One this season if they are to secure their future in the sport.
That is the view of the Cologne-based team's president John Howett, who thinks that it is vital Toyota build on the progress they have made over the last 12 months.
And although falling short of saying the team must win to remain in the sport, Howett knows how much the pressure on the team would be eased if they secured their maiden triumph.
"We have a great team of people and I think we just feel we need to win and it is about time we won," Howett told reporters during a briefing at the Portimao track in Portugal on Tuesday.
"We need a strong season. If we have a weak season we have no future. Whether we really have to win to stay is difficult to stay, but we feel we have to win.
"It is our desire and our passion shared by our people in Cologne. We feel we must win, and then we can cement and secure a very bright future in F1."
Howett has had no indications from Toyota's parent company that their place in F1 is being reviewed, but thinks all teams must deliver 'value' on track.
"I think what I will say is that every team are facing increased scrutiny because of the financial situation, and we are no different from any other," he said.
"I don't uniquely believe that it is cost that has driven certain teams out of their relative sport - it is a holistic view about the value that is delivered for the investment.
"It is quite clear we need to reduce our costs and I am very confident we will do that. And we need to have an extremely strong season to demonstrate to Toyota that we are value to the corporation for the commitment they are and have made to the sport. It is our job as managers and leaders of the team to deliver.
"So yes, we are under scrutiny. It isn't wrong to say that, but I don't think you should uniquely pull Toyota out from the remainder of the teams. We all need to perform in one way or another."
Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina conceded, however, that they could take nothing for granted in securing the company's future commitment to F1.
"Honestly speaking, we are also struggling to stay in F1," he said. "We discussed lots with the Japanese management, but fortunately Mr. (Katsuaki) Watanabe, our CEO, convinced the bosses to stay in F1.
"As John mentioned, Toyota are doing some cost reduction to get some better performance, but we are still alive and, from that sense, this season is very important. Even if the headquarters had some operational loss, we spend their money to fight to win a race, so it is very, very important for us to win this year."