Former Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina claims the Japanese manufacturer will not return to Formula 1 in the current era because the sport has become too "elitist."
Yamashina, who remains a senior managing director at Toyota, believes F1 no longer offers the manufacturer a significant link to its customers and says it is better served competing in other areas of motorsport.
"There is a big gap between Formula 1 and Toyota's actual car users," Yamashina told Automotive News. "F1 remains the pinnacle of auto racing, but its image grew too elitist.
"At races such as Nurburgring [24 Hours], fans can get right into [the] pit lane, mingle with the teams and touch the cars. They can soak up the atmosphere and feel part of the event. By contrast, average fans have no hope of strolling the paddock at an F1 race. For the fortunate few who can afford to do that, it's fine. I think the best kind of races are those in which people can get in close to the race."
Members of Toyota's board will attend this weekend's World Touring Car Championship event at Monza to evaluate a future touring car program.