Rumors suggest Toyota could be preparing to launch its Lexus brand into Formula One.
It wasn't that long ago that the lion's share of the world's major automakers were competing in Formula One. Honda, BMW, Renault-Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat/Ferrari and – most pertinently – Toyota were all represented on the grand prix grid. BMW, Honda and Toyota have since pulled out of the series, and Renault has sold its team, withdrawing to engine-supplier status only. But with new regulations taking effect, one of the biggest automakers in the world could be preparing to get back in the game.
According to rumors emanating from ClubLexus and reported by Autoblog, Toyota is preparing to relaunch an offensive into F1 – but not in its own name: instead it will field its Lexus brand in the elite racing series. With Infiniti ramping up its partnership with Red Bull and Mercedes running its own team these days, the time could be right for a Lexus F1 entry, but the real motivation could be coming from new regulations. F1 is set to switch next year to turbocharged V6 engines and more powerful KERS hybrid systems, which would not only create an even playing field for new entries, but also potentially give Toyota and Lexus the upper hand.
The last time Toyota competed in F1 was between 2002 and 2009, when it had some big names and big budgets to play with, but failed to win a single race, despite a baker's dozen podium finishes and a handful of pole positions. Whether Lexus would run its own team or simply supply engines like Renault does remains to be seen, as is the matter of whether there's any truth to these rumors at all. Of course this could end up being a left-over April Fool's joke, but with Akio Toyoda ramping up the entire group's motorsport activities, the idea has some merit.