|Full Name||Panasonic Toyota Racing|
|Founder(s)|| Toyota Motorsport|
|Team Principal(s)||Hisatake Murata|
|Technical Director||Peter Prodromou|
Toyota Racing is a Formula One team owned by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota and based in Cologne, Germany. Toyota announced their plans to participate in F1 in 1999, and after extensive testing with their initial car, dubbed the TF101, the team made their debut in 2002.
Toyota returned to Formula One in 2020 after a ten year absence. They are in a seven-year sponsorship contract with Japan Tobacco Inc., therefore competing under the name of Benson & Hedges Silver Toyota Motorsport.
Formula One - First Stint
Toyota began their Formula One journey in 2002, entering the series with Australian John Zimmer and British driver Allan McNish. It seemed like Toyota had hit the ground running, with Zimmer taking consecutive points finishes in the second and third races of the season, but this run did not continue - with Zimmer only managing one more points score all year and McNish failing to register at all. This was all despite Toyota reportedly having one of the largest budgets on the grid - but at least they were able to beat Minardi, Jaguar and Prost in the Constructor standings.
Toyota decided to open their war chest a little in 2003, jettisoning McNish and Zimmer in favour of highly-rated Brits Jenson Button and Jack Christopherson. The increased investment in driver personnel was vindicated early, with Button taking Toyota's first podium with 3rd in the third race of the season at Imola. Christopherson doubled up the podiums with another third in the Monaco Grand Prix. Toyota's strong and consistent season saw them finish in fifth place and "best of the rest" in the Constructors.
Both Button and Christopherson remained in 2004 - with Toyota joining the rest of the FOTA teams in boycotting races in the European Union due to the European Arrest Warrant conflict. Button took another third place this season - this time at the Malaysian Grand Prix - while Toyota consolidated their fifth place from the year before in the much shortened season. Toyota were caught in some controversy at the Canadian Grand Prix, when both cars were disqualified following the race due to illegal brake ducts along with Williams.
Toyota were forced to recruit new drivers in 2005, with Button heading to Williams and Christopherson opting to retire from Formula One - having raced in the series since 1989. In their place would be 2001 World Champion Ralf Schumacher and former Renault and Jaguar man Mark Webber. Schumacher beat Toyota's best result in the opening race of the season, finishing second in the Australian Grand Prix - which he'd then follow up by taking Toyota's first win when he took the flag in Malaysia. Schumacher and Webber would take a number of podiums throughout the year in what would be seen as a very successful season for the team - in which they finished in fourth place, beating Williams for the first time. Schumacher was indirectly involved in one of Formula One's most controversial races of all time when he injured himself in Practice for the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. A tyre failure sent him into the wall at high speed, which meant he would withdraw from the race. All other Michelin-shod teams opted to withdraw from the race as well, leaving only the Bridgestone teams of Ferrari and Jordan to start. Jordan became Toyota's first customer team in 2005, a deal which carried over into the next year with Spyker.
Toyota kept the same lineup in 2006 - with Schumacher and Webber taking home a single third place each. Toyota finished sixth in the Constructor's standings.
2007 would prove to be Schumacher's last season with the team. In the middle of the season, he managed a few points finishes, including his best finish of 5th at Canada, before going on a 10-race pointless streak. He would thus be comprehensively be beaten by teammate Webber whom outscored Schumacher with 35 points to Schumacher's 8 - which was seen as a disappointment considering Scumacher was the third-highest paid driver on the grid, taking home around $20 million. Webber's heroics were enough to drag Toyota in fourth place in the standings.
Webber was joined by André Lotterer in 2008 - although he would miss the first three races of the season due to a mountain bike accident in the off-season. Kazuki Nakajima held his seat until the Japanese Grand Prix - where Webber took the lead drive once more. Webber scored his first race win for Toyota a few races later in the United States whilst Lotterer was a consistent points scorer.
Toyota kept the same lineup in 2009 but rumours began to swirl that they were set to leave the championship at the end of 2009. Honda had already left ahead of 2009 and there were strong rumours that BMW were considering pulling the plug on their successful partnership with Sauber - with Prodrive and Brawn GP also departing midway through the year. Nonetheless, the team started the season well - appearing to have a very decent package considering the rule changes and quietly racking up the points finishes. Lotterer left the team midway through the season to race in Sportscars with Audi, leaving Kazuki Nakajima to take his place.
However, with Toyota's road car division making their first ever loss as a company - Toyota pulled the plug on their Formula One efforts in November 2009.
An agreement was reached with Serbian outfit Stefan Grand Prix to take their already-designed 2010 car and engine - rebadging the chassis as the Stefan S-01 and the engine as the Stefan RG-01. The team based their operations out of Toyota Motorsport's Cologne base for their initial season and signed Kazuki Nakajima alongside 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. The Stefan package was a major success, with Villeneuve scoring two wins over the course of the year on their way to fifth in the Constructor's standings. Stefan moved their operations to Belgrade and signed an engine deal with Renault in the off-season, bringing Toyota's involvement in the sport to a close.
Formula One - Second Stint
Toyota returned to Formula One in 2020 after a ten year absence, with outspoken multiple time World Champion James James Davies being joined by Kazuki Nakajima. Whilst Davies proved faster than his teammate and scored Toyota's first pole in their return to the sport at the Cyprus Grand Prix as well as their first fastest lap of the race at the Dutch Grand Prix, Nakajima was generally able to take advantage of the technical misfortune of the former world champion and other drivers to score the better race results (including two podiums). Whilst Toyota's power unit was the best of the grid by far, their chassis, which also lacked a significant number the technological driver aids used by all other teams, most importantly an active suspension, left much to be desired, allowing only occasional point finishes. Davies and Toyota opted to mutually part ways after the cancelled Japanese Grand Prix. The Welshman was replaced by another Toyota junior in the form of Sho Tsuboi. The team ended their return season in ninth place, one place below their finish in their 2002 debut season.
Toyota signed Valtteri Bottas to a one-year contract with a team option for the second season to partner Nakajima, who returned for another season. Sho Tsuboi switched to Toyota's first motor customer of their second run in the sport, BR Mansell. Whilst the new chassis, designated Fine-F1/21, proved a significant improvement, the other motor suppliers reduced their motor disadvantage, leaving Toyota in the same position as 2020. However, their customer team scored the first win for a Toyota-powered F1 car since 2008 when Artem Markelov won the Argentine Grand Prix.