Brawn: Toyota May Become 'Chelsea of F1'

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn fears Toyota are spending so much money that they could end up as the 'Chelsea of Formula One'

The technical director, whose own Fiat-owned team themselves are estimated to have an annual budget in excess of $300 million, warned against the glamour sport becoming dominated by the richest.

Similar fears have been aired about Chelsea, turned from under-achievers into English soccer Champions thanks to an avalanche of cash from Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

Some media and industry estimates have put Toyota's budget at $400 million.

"They've certainly made pretty good progress from last year to this year. We don't know where they will be next year," said Brawn.

"I think one of the things that Toyota have demonstrated is that they are certainly willing to commit to budgets that could exceed those of any other team.

"I heard them announce a second wind tunnel which is a $50m or $60m project at least, plus all the people you need to run it, plus all the parts you need to put into it, so they are making a tremendous commitment."

"This is not a criticism of Toyota in any way whatsoever, but we have to be careful in Formula One that we don't end up with the team that spends the most money being the team that wins everything," said Brawn.

"Because then it's just a spending contest and not an engineering and driver contest. I wish them every success but I hope Toyota don't end up as the Chelsea of Formula One."

Japan's biggest carmaker entered Formula One in 2002 with a Germany-based team and have finally shaken off their under-performing image this year.

With Italian Jarno Trulli and Germany's Ralf Schumacher hired on impressive salaries, they have secured their first podium finishes and are challenging Ferrari for third place in the constructors' Championship.

The governing FIA said this month that it wanted to help new teams into Formula One from 2008 by slashing hundreds of millions of dollars off the cost of competing.

"The target is to reduce the budget of a top team from the current $360 million plus to around $120 million," it said.

"A budget of $120 million for two cars for one season is still a vast amount of money when compared to any other form of motor racing."

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