Toyota denies Japan GP pullout

TOKYO: Toyota Motor confirmed Friday that it will host the Japanese Grand Prix in 2010 at its Fuji Speedway circuit, in response to a report that it was considering withdrawing from the event.

"At Fuji Speedway, we are making preparations to host F1 next year," said a Toyota spokesman. "There is no truth to the report that we were considering withdrawing from hosting it," he said.

The influential Asahi Shimbun had reported that the world's biggest automaker was reviewing its plan to host the prestigious race as the global economic crisis continues to squeeze the auto industry.

"As the entire (Toyota) company attempts to cut costs, employees have increasingly voiced the view that the cost of hosting Formula One should also be reviewed," said the Asahi, citing unnamed company sources.

The report came only weeks after Toyota announced its first annual loss for the year to March 2009 and warned of another year in the red this fiscal year.

Toyota executives have repeatedly said they would review all expenses, ranging from material procurement to administrative costs.

Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, in the foothills of Mount Fuji, is slated to host the Japanese Grand Prix in 2010 as the 16th leg of the 18-round Formula One series.

From this year, the Japanese race is expected to alternate between the Suzuka Circuit, owned by rival Honda, and the Fuji Speedway.

Fuji Speedway opened in 1966 and staged F1 races in 1976 and 1977.

Japan then did not host the celebrated race until 1987, when Suzuka hosted the event and continued every year until 2006.

But in 2007 and in 2008, the Toyota facility hosted the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in 30 years, replacing the Suzuka.