The worst kept secret in F1 is out - Ralf Schumacher will move to Toyota next year. The announcement was due to be made at the British Grand Prix, but the German, who is temporarily out of F1 action following his Indianapolis accident, gave the game away.

The worst kept secret in F1 is out - Ralf Schumacher will move to Toyota next year. The announcement was due to be made at the British Grand Prix, but the German, who is temporarily out of F1 action following his Indianapolis accident, gave the game away.


The three-year Toyota contract was made public in typically Ralf Schumacher fashion: "If, according to your information, I am moving to Toyota, I can confirm that you are not quite wrong," Schumacher told in an interview on Tuesday.


His statement undoubtedly sent the Panasonic Toyota team's PR manager into a panic, but he'll have to get used to the German’s perceived lack of discretion. Ralf’s critics have said in the past that the only times when the younger Schumacher doesn't have his foot in his mouth is when he's rotating his feet.


Ralf is recovering from injuries sustained at the US Grand Prix on June 20, when he broke two vertebrae, but says he can race again this year. But with his Toyota contract confirmed, it looks increasingly unlikely that he'll pilot a BMW-Williams again this year. And as Juan-Pablo Montoya will also be leaving the team at the end of the year, Williams may want to start giving potential 2005 drivers time behind the wheel.


Soon after Ralf let the cat out of the bag, Toyota did the only thing it could by confirming the three-year deal. Whether the Japanese team can unlock Ralf's potential will be the key to a rise in the points’ standings next year. As it looks now, the communication between driver and team needs to be sorted out first...


Nevertheless, Panasonic Toyota Racing team principal Tsutomu Tomita was pleased with securing Ralf's services: "It is with pleasure that we can announce Ralf as one of Toyota's race drivers for the 2005 season. He has proven himself to be an extremely quick racing driver in his career, and I am sure that his vast experience will be extremely beneficial to our team.


"We have not finalised who will partner Ralf in 2005, and this is something we are in no rush to decide on. We are happy with the job that Cristiano and Olivier are doing for us and both of them are under consideration for the remaining race seat next season. There are still eight races of the season to go and everyone at Toyota is fully focussed on improving our level of performance to gain as many championship points as we can."


It is expected that Christiano da Matta will be leaving the Japanese team after two frustrating years in Formula 1.