Vijay Mallya, one of Spyker F1 s new owners, has denied speculation that Ralf Schumacher will continue his Formula 1 career with the team. Schumacher and Mallya are already close friends as the Indian businessman has sponsored the Toyota team through his Kingfisher brand during the 2007 season. After the Chinese Grand Prix, some eagle-eyed souls spotted Schumacher s manager chatting to Mallya in the paddock.
“I personally hold him in high regard,â€ Mallya explained. “But a driver line-up is not something that should be decided by the heart but by the brain. I want drivers that can raise the standards in the team.
“I always get asked if we will have an Indian driver and my response is, if I can find one who is ready, yes. But only under the parameters just said. Drivers are a crucial part of the team so the driver line-up is a serious matter and not a sympathy contest.â€
As Schumacher has already confirmed he will be leaving the Toyota team at the end of the season, there are strong rumours over that Timo Glock is on the verge of a contract that will see him take over the vacant driver seat.
Glock has just won the GP2 series and is currently test driver for BMW Sauber. With Toyota s $150 million bid to secure Fernando Alonso s services for three years almost certainly not going ahead, Toyota are keen to sign the GP2 champ. Although it is rumoured that three teams were keen to sign Glock, it appears that Toyota have offered him the best package, worth around $2 million a year. If this figure is true, it will mean big savings for the team who were forking out around $19 million a year on Ralf Schumacher.
However, neither Glock or Toyota have officially confirmed the rumours as yet with Toyota president John Howett stating, “Right now we are still looking at the driver market situation.â€