Last week, giant car manufacturers BMW Sauber pulled out of Formula One due to poor results and spiralling costs.
Whispers around the paddock suggest that other big car manufacturers such as Renault and Toyota are in trouble because of the current state of the economy and its effect on the car industry.
However, Renault seem to be picking up the pace with their development and they look to be safe, but Toyota have slowed down, with results not coming as they did during the earlier parts of the season. Could this be due to a plan to pull out of F1?
Toyota stated at the start of the season that they wanted the new car, the TF109, to win at least one race this coming season. Podiums came at the start of the season, but Toyota have just gone off the boil in recent races.
Their true pace was shown at the start of the season in Melbourne. After receiving a penalty, the cars started from 19th and 20th and came in third and fourth after the two Brawns.
The same result came in a rain soaked Malaysia and in the Bahrain desert, Jarno Trulli took pole ahead of teammate Timo Glock to make it an all Toyota front row. They were serious contenders for the title.
A shocking result came in Monaco. The Toyota's were just about the slowest cars on the grid and scored no points whatsoever. Since then, they haven't even touched the podium.
Now is this due to other teams catching up with Toyota in the continuous development race? Or is it due to a total slowdown in development from Toyota because they know they are going to pull out?
Practice sessions rarely indicate true pace, however qualifying sessions often do. So let's compare the qualifying performance of the Toyota's and the McLaren's for the first three races and the most recent three races. Stats won't include penalties.
Australia- Toyota- 6th and 8th
McLaren- 14th and 15th
Malaysia- Toyota- 2nd and 5th
McLaren- 13th and 14th
China- Toyota- 6th and 14th
McLaren- 9th and 12th
Great Britain- Toyota- 4th and 8th
McLaren- 13th and 19th
Germany- Toyota- 14th and 19th
McLaren- 5th and 6th
Hungary- Toyota- 12th and 14th
McLaren- 4th and 6th
So there are the stats. Decide for yourself whether or not Toyota have simply been overtaken or a planning a pullout. I personally think the latter.