Starting June 15th and ending June 22nd, auction house RM Sotheby’s is partnering with the FIA, racing teams, and drivers to host a coronavirus charity auction to benefit the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In addition to a day on the Ferrari simulator and some race-worn gear donated by drivers, Toyota stepped up to donate a complete TF109 Formula One car [engine and gearbox included!] for the auction.
The TF109 chassis raced in the 2009 season, Toyota’s last in the sport. Despite the global economic recession of 2008, Toyota remained financially committed to F1 in 2009 to the tune of an alleged half-billion dollar budget. With drivers Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli onboard [with Kamui Kobayashi filling in for Glock post leg injury for the final two rounds], the car managed a quintet of podiums to net a whopping 59.5 points and finished fifth in the constructors championship. Eighteen non-points finishes, including four DNFs and one DNS, did not help Toyota’s cause that year.
For the amount of money spent developing and campaigning the TF109, Toyota had certainly hoped for better results. Getting embarrassed by the ex-Honda Brawn team, plus finishing behind Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari did not ingratiate the Formula One effort to the higher ups at Toyota. Especially as an economic meltdown engulfed the world, the Japanese manufacturer’s return on investment was quickly going upside-down. At the end of the 2009 season, Toyota pulled out of the F1 circus altogether.
This particular chassis is the first TF109 to be built, and was used as a test car for both Trulli and Glock, though it was not used in any races. Following Toyota’s departure, TF109-01 was later used as a Pirelli tire testing car, obviously as a way for Pirelli to conduct testing in an impartial manner. During these tire tests, the car was driven by Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa, Lucas di Grassi, and Romain Grosjean. It is still presented in that bare carbon fiber and Pirelli livery, which is pretty damn cool.
Wouldn’t you want to own a massively expensive motorsport failure from one of the biggest automotive manufacturers in the world? The TF109 won’t go down in history as a particularly significant chassis, and it’s unlikely Toyota’s involvement in F1 will be looked back on with particular fondness, but at least you’d have the most baller track day toy of all time. If I had the ability to lay out the cash for this beast, I’d take it to an SCCA autocross just for the hell of it. It would be hilarious to allow someone to brag that they outran an F1 car in a well-built Miata.
Would you rather have some top-of-the-heap hypercar, or a kinda shit F1 car? I know which one will be quicker around the track (given the right driver, of course). Though the Toyota’s tire budget might need to be a little higher.