Toyota linked with F1 return with McLaren

Wild new rumours at Suzuka suggest Toyota could be on the way back into Formula 1.

McLaren stunned the Japanese GP paddock this weekend by announcing out of the blue that Ryo Hirakawa will be the famous F1 team’s reserve driver in 2024.

Hirakawa currently races for Toyota in the world endurance championship and Super Formula, winning Le Mans last year.

Fascinatingly, with Hirakawa at Suzuka is Akio Toyoda – chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation. And with him are several other Toyota officials.

One of them is former Williams-Toyota driver Kazuki Nakajima, who is now vice chairman of Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe.

When asked about the wild new Toyota-to-F1 rumours, Nakajima told as-web.jp: “I can’t go into too much detail.

“It is true that we communicated with McLaren,” said the former F1 driver. “They asked ‘what kind of driver is Hirakawa? That’s how the story started.

“As Morizo (Toyota chairman Toyoda) mentioned, we were able to realise the idea of drivers first. And as Hirakawa said, there is no doubt that the issue of reserve driver was a sudden development.

“When he actually drove the simulator, he showed something even better than expected. Things clicked together and now it’s coming to fruition,” Nakajima added.

Toyota entered Formula 1 in 2002, pulling out as both a works team and engine supplier at the end of 2009 amid the global financial crisis.

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