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Ralf Schumacher signs for Toyota 07 Jul 2004

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, United States Grand Prix, Practice Day, Indianapolis, USA, 18 June 2004

Ralf Schumacher will race for Toyota next season after signing a three-year deal, the Japanese team announced on Wednesday.

"It is with pleasure that we can announce Ralf as one of Toyota's race drivers for the 2005 season,” said Toyota team principal Tsutomu Tomita. “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.”

Toyota could not confirm who would be Schumacher’s team mate next season, but said that both their current race drivers, Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta, were in the frame for the seat.

“We have not finalised who will partner Ralf in 2005, and this is something we are in no rush to decide on,” added Tomita. “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.”

The team added that they will make a decision on the Schumacher's team mate towards the end of the season, insisting that they will not comment on any speculation or rumours surrounding the remaining race seat until all contractual issues have been finalised.

Schumacher, currently out injured after his high-speed crash at Indianapolis, made his Formula One debut in 1997 with Jordan. He joined Williams in 1999 and has since won six Grands Prix with the British team. Standing in for him again this weekend at Silverstone will be Williams test and reserve driver, Marc Gene.

Schumacher's Toyota contract officially begins on January 01, 2005, though the team said they hope to get him testing as soon as possible after this season's Brazilian Grand Prix.