Confidential sources within our Club Lexus community have learned that Toyota plans to re-enter Formula One during the 2015 race year under the Lexus banner. Toyota last raced in Formula One in 2009 claiming that the series was not in touch with their customer base (the financial and economic outlook was also broadly cited as a factor).
In December 2012, Toyota executives hinted that they might reconsider that decision (interviews with Toyota Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise about hybrids in both WRC and Le Mans 24-hour racing) and we’ve learned that that decision to re-enter Formula One under the Lexus banner is all but finalized. Lexus has been selected over Toyota because of the premium branding, Lexus’ performance vehicle development such as the LF-A model, and the brand’s focus on hybrid vehicles throughout their product line.
Our sources cited a number of factors that are being contemplated resulting in this about-face, summarized below:
Changes in Technical Specifications give Toyota / Lexus an advantage with their Hybrid technology prowess.
For 2014, the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) capacity has been increased from 60kw to 120kw, while fuel consumption for the F1 cars are more restricted. This scenario has the makings of an ideal situation for Toyota / Lexus to use their significant hybrid technological footprint to potentially outpace the competitors with lesser capabilities in this area.
All Formula one teams have to fully re-engineer their motors in 2014
All teams will have brand new motors in 2014 under the new FIA specifications. The current 2.4 liter V8 is a normally aspirated engine that produces 750 horsepower. It creates that familiar ‘F1 motor scream’ while revving at up to 18,000 revolutions per minute, but has the expected downside of using a considerable volume of fuel at each race.
In 2014, the new Formula One engine will be a 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 that produces roughly 550 horsepower at 15,000 rpm, plus two types of energy recovery systems to boost power (energy recovered during braking and energy captured from exhaust heat). Early tests show that this motor will use up to 30 percent less fuel, allowing a significant weight saving of 220 pounds of fuel for each race.
A Top-down focus at Toyota and Lexus on Performance Motorsports
Akio Toyoda, 56, is grandson of Toyota company founder Kiichiro Toyoda and a very visible and vocal motorsports champion within the company. He not only has been a driving factor in a number of Lexus and Toyota models that have brought adrenaline back to the brands, he has been a driver in them having piloted a number of races personally including the Lexus LF-A SP8-class at the 24 hours of Nurburgring. He reportedly has been a strong and visible supporter of Toyota’s push into WRC and Le Mans and is now personally championing the Formula One initiative.
There are some rumors circulating too…
Also mentioned by our sources (not officially cited but believed by many to be a factor in Toyota’s decision) is Inifiniti’s more highly prominent sponsorship of the Red Bull team. Being seen to participate more strongly in the new ‘greener’ Formula One could be an adverting bonanza for Infiniti’s branding. They already can been seen taking advantage of the higher placement and visibility of their investment by naming Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel as “Director of Performance”.
Also rumored – Toyota is in talks with former Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi (who started his career in the Formula Toyota series) to be their chief driver. With recent events at Red Bull racing, perhaps Mark Weber would be a great starter for the team as well.
Thank you to our confidential sources for allowing Club Lexus, the world’s largest and most active Lexus enthusiast community (www.clublexus.com) to scoop this news!