Panasonic Toyota Racing has today confirmed that it has signed a three-year contract with Ralf Schumacher to be a race driver for the team from the 2005 season.
Panasonic Toyota Racing Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita said of the announcement: "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 8 races of the season to go and everyone at Toyota is fully focused on improving our level of performance to gain as many championship points as we can."
Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis will continue to race for Toyota in the remaining events of the 2004 season with Ricardo Zonta as third driver and Ryan Briscoe as test driver.
The team will make a decision on the remaining race seat towards the end of the season. In the meantime, Toyota will not comment on any speculation or rumors surrounding the remaining race seat until all contractual issues have been finalized.