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LONDON - Big-spending Toyota's exit from Formula One leaves the sport accelerating towards a future with minimal Japanese involvement, less money and the balance of power swinging back to privately owned teams.
While the manufacturers will still provide the backbone, there will be only three of them next year - Fiat-owned Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.
Toyota join BMW and Honda in pulling out of the sport in the space of less than a year, with Renault seemingly determined to carry on despite their suspended permanent ban for involvement in a race-fixing scandal.
"Perhaps this is the end of a decade of manufacturer dominance in Formula One and what we will now see over the next decade is a sport that resembles much more closely the 1990s," said Williams chief executive Adam Parr.
The exodus is undeniably a blow to the sport's prestige and pulling power, but one that it will weather. There should still be more teams next season than there have been for years.
Mercedes are set to buck the trend by buying a majority stake in champions Brawn while maintaining, for the time being, their 40percent shareholding in McLaren.
Toyota entered in 2002. Their demise is to be regretted, but others on the F1 scrapheap drew far more mourners to the funeral. - Reuters