Toyota set to announce it is leaving F1

Toyota is expected to announced later today that it is withdrawing from Formula 1 with immediate effect, according to reports in the Japanese press, following a decision by the company's board of directors on Tuesday in Japan

Toyota set to announce it is leaving F1

The official announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday afternoon Japan time, with representatives of the Toyota Motor Company reportly planning to hold a press conference to explain its decision.

The decision comes after months of speculation about the future of the team, a year after its Japanese rival Honda has withdrawn from F1 and just days following Bridgestone's announcement that it will end its F1 involvement after next season.

The Cologne-based Toyota team joined F1 at the start of the 2002 season, taking part in 139 grands prix and - albeit having one of the largest team budgets in the sport - failed to take a race win.

Suggestions the car maker will withdraw from F1 has surfaced throughout the year, but were repeatedly denied by company officials. Moreover, the team signed the new Concorde Agreement just recently, committing to the sport until the 2012 season.

Toyota Motor Corp is the largest car maker in the world, but the Japanese giant is forecasting an operating loss of over 8 billion USD.

Its decision to withdraw from grand prix racing paves the way for the the new owners of the BMW Sauber team to enter Formula 1 next year.

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