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Trulli leaves Renault, set for Toyota
Alan Baldwin | September 15, 2004 18:53 IST
Italian Jarno Trulli is expected to be confirmed as a Toyota driver on Thursday after leaving the Renault Formula One team three races before the end of the season.
"Toyota will make a driver announcement tomorrow," a Toyota spokesman said on Wednesday.
It would be a major surprise if it was not about Trulli, this year's Monaco Grand Prix winner who parted definitively with Renault on Wednesday after announcing in July that he had agreed to join another team in 2005.
Renault said in a statement that Trulli had been released from his obligations to the team with immediate effect after a mutual agreement.
"Once again, we would like to thank Jarno for his contribution to the team over the past three years," said team boss Flavio Briatore.
"The team and Jarno feel that an early separation will allow both parties to conclude the year in the most positive way."
Renault are fighting BAR for second place in the constructors' championship but Trulli had not scored a point for the past five races.
Trulli, who had accused Renault last weekend of trying to force him out, added that he was comfortable with the decision and thanked Renault for their support over the years.
"I am grateful to the team for releasing me from my obligations, which will give me the opportunity to start with my new team sooner than expected," he said.
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve is likely to replace Trulli for the final three races, depending on the outcome of a two-day test at Silverstone starting on Wednesday.
Toyota have signed Ralf Schumacher from Williams for 2005 and also have French veteran Olivier Panis and Brazilian Ricardo Zonta, who replaced compatriot Cristiano da Matta last month, driving for them.
Renault have Spaniard Fernando Alonso remaining, with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella joining from Sauber next year.
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