Ralf Schumacher is unlikely to race in formula one for Toyota next year and he could even be shown the door before the end of 2007.
That is the claim of the German newspaper Bild, which said bosses of the Cologne based team intend to make a decision about the beleaguered 31-year-old’s crisis after the upcoming double-header in North America.
“It is not inconceivable that another driver will sit in Ralf’s cockpit in France,” the report reads.
Schumacher, whose elder brother Michael retired as F1’s most successful-ever driver last year, is strongly backed by Toyota president John Howett.
But officials in Japan are alarmed that, equipped with an identical Toyota engine, the considerably less funded Williams is already two points superior to the works team in the constructors’ standings.
Toyota spokeswoman Fernanda Villas-Boas predictably blanked Bild’s story, insisting that talks between Ralf and Toyota are “ongoing”.
Schumacher’s manager Hans Mahr insisted: “We have a contract to the end of the season. And we very much hope that Toyota, as they always have, keep to their word.”