Ralf Schumacher drops hint that he will join Toyota next season

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The Independent Online

Ralf Schumacher has given a clear indication he will race for Toyota next season, with an official announcement due at this weekend's British Grand Prix.

Ralf Schumacher has given a clear indication he will race for Toyota next season, with an official announcement due at this weekend's British Grand Prix.

The German magazine Bunte asked Schumacher if he could confirm he would be joining Toyota, to which the Williams driver replied: "Bingo! The decision about my future has been settled for a long time. It will be announced at Silverstone on 11 July. If, according to your information, I am joining Toyota, I can confirm Bunte is not totally off the mark." Schumacher is out of action after fracturing his spine in a crash at the US Grand Prix last month.

Silverstone's immediate future has been secured after the British Racing Drivers' Club agreed to accept £27m to take the circuit back.

The BRDC owns the track but had leased it out to the marketing company Interpublic, along with the rights to the British Grand Prix. But Interpublic incurred heavy losses and bailed out of Formula One by paying Bernie Ecclestone to take the rights back earlier this year. Now they have stepped aside from British motor racing completely by ending the lease early.

Formula One's governing body has dismissed a move by Ecclestone to change qualifying for Sunday's British Grand Prix.

"The discussion has just begun and it will not be possible for the voting procedures to be completed in time for Silverstone," an International Automobile Federation (FIA) spokesman said yesterday.

The 10 teams agreed last month to change the qualifying format for the rest of the season from Sunday's race but the decision was rejected at a meeting of the FIA's F1 commission in London last week.

However, revised documents were circulated at last weekend's French Grand Prix seeking to reinstate the proposal to scrap the current single lap format in favour of two 25-minute free-for-all sessions. Grid positions would then be determined by an aggregate time.

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