It has emerged that 500 of the 650 employees will lose their job at the high tech Toyota Formula One facility in Cologne, Germany. According to the German Auto, Motor und Sport magazine, Toyota had already notified their employers on November 30 that 500 of them will lose their job. It is understood the 500 employees, mostly high skilled engineers, will be given a redundancy payment and will enter a Toyota sponsored re-training program to help them find a new job.
After Toyota announced their withdrawal from Formula One in November it remained unclear what the Japanese carmaker's next step would be. There were many rumors about companies who were interested to take over the Formula One team and all its assets, or would be prepared to buy the design of the Toyota 2010 car, the latest rumor being that the Serbian outfit Stefan Grand Prix owned by Zoran Stefanowic, would take over the team.
It has now become apparent the Toyota Formula One team will not be sold. Mother company, Toyota Motor Company - the largest car producer in the world - will not sell its facility Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne. The facility is one of most sophisticated in Formula One, it has high tech test stands, race simulators and two wind tunnels.
Toyota marketing director Andy Fuchs told the German press agency DPA that the remaining 150 employees will in the future be working on the other Toyota projects, and the facility will be used to produce upgrade kits for their exclusive Lexus models. They will also prepare racings car for the other race series Toyota is still active in. According to Fuchs the news had totally surprised the employees in Cologne, and had hit them like 'a bomb'.
All that now remains to be solved is the problem that Toyota had signed the Concorde Agreement a few months ago, an agreement between FIA, FOM, CVC and FOTA about the future and shape of Formula One. According to FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone, breaching the agreement could cost Toyota up to $150 million.
On December 22 there is a meeting of the World Motor Sports Council (WMSC) at the FIA headquarters in Paris, and without a doubt the position of the FIA regarding the withdrawal of Toyota and what the consequences will be for breaching the agreement will be on top of the agenda. The FIA has already announced that, ?a number of important announcements,? will be made after that meeting. Let's see how freshly elected FIA president Frenchman Jean Todt will handle this situation.