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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 08:51 UK

Fuji pulls plug on Japan F1 race

Felipe Massa's Ferrari at last year's Japanese Grand Prix
Mount Fuji provides an evocative backdrop for the Fuji track

The future of the Japanese Grand Prix has been thrown into doubt by Fuji Speedway's decision not to host the race in 2010.

Toyota, the track's owner, has blamed cost-cutting needs amid the global economic downturn for its decision.

Fuji had hosted the race for the last two years but was next due to host it in 2010 after starting a swap deal with Honda-owned Suzuka, its previous home.

Suzuka has not said whether it would be prepared to host the race every year.

Toyota, the world's largest car company, suffered a record £2.8bn loss in the year to March 2009 and is expecting its finances to be worse this year.

"It has become extremely difficult for us to host the F1 Grand Prix as we face the deteriorating economic environment and see few signs showing a swift economic recovery," Fuji Speedway said in a statement.


A spokesman added: "It is not clear at this moment whether a 2010 race in Japan will be hosted by others or if a race will be held in another country."

Circuit president Hiroaki Kato described the decision as "heart-wrenching".

Japan's grand prix is only one of the races under pressure for its place on the calendar as F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone looks to new markets where race organisers are prepared to pay higher fees.

Japan's neighbour South Korea is one country where the 78-year-old is hoping to establish a race.

Fuji first hosted the Japanese Grand Prix in 1976 but was removed from the calendar after two spectators were killed when the Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve crashed into the crowd during the race in 1977.

The race returned to the calendar in 1987 at Suzuka, which hosted the event until 2006, before a revamped Fuji took over for the last two years.

Suzuka has undergone an expensive revamp for its return to the F1 calendar this season.

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see also
Toyota to review product ranges
25 Jun 09 |  Business
F1 supremo plans Japan night race
26 Sep 08 |  Formula 1
Fuji & Suzuka to share Grand Prix
08 Sep 07 |  Formula 1

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