TOYOTA HAS PULLED THE PLUG on its support for the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway from next year to end the circuit?s involvement in Formula One after only two events.
The circuit was intended to be used on an alternating basis with Japan?s other world class venue, Suzuka, but the effect of the Global Financial Crisis has prompted its owner, Toyota, to stop bankrolling the event.
Fuji Speedway President Hiroaki Kato was bitterly disappointed with the decision to withdraw from Formula One after Toyota invested a significant amount of money to renovate the circuit ahead of its return.
He told Autosport: "After only having announced barely three years ago, in March 2006, that Fuji Speedway would hold the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, it is heart-wrenching that we were not able to avoid the decision to abandon our plans to hold the race from 2010," he said.
"To the people who attended the event at Fuji Speedway last year and the year before, to those who were looking forward to the event there in the future, and to all those locally and elsewhere who granted us their immense understanding and encouragement, I deeply apologize for a result not commensurate with your expectations.
"At the same time, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for your kind support.
"Fuji Speedway intends to devote itself with even greater intensity to promote motor sports. For this, we humbly seek your continued understanding."
Despite its challenging turns and picturesque location, Fuji Speedway was much maligned by members of the F1 driver fraternity, who appeared to favour Japan?s other circuit and host of this year?s Grand Prix, Suzuka.
Ahead of last year?s event, then Honda driver Jenson Button said: ?For me, the true home of the Japanese Grand Prix is Suzuka, which is just one of the best circuits in the world, and I can?t wait to return there next year.
?However I did enjoy driving at the Fuji Speedway last year and the circuit has a nice mix of twisty corners and the high-speed pit straight.
Fuji Raceway?s operators will now focus on its Formula Nippon and Super GT commitments.