Formula One team Toyota have suspended technical director Mike Gascoyne due to a "fundamental difference of opinion".
The Germany-based team, estimated to have spent more than $1 billion since they entered the sport in 2002, finished fourth overall last year after taking their first podium finishes.
However, they have struggled to be as competitive in the first three races of 2006, despite Germany's Ralf Schumacher finishing third in Australia at the weekend.
"Due to a fundamental difference of opinion with regard to the technical operations of its Formula One team, Toyota Motorsport has suspended its Technical Director Chassis, Mike Gascoyne, until further notice," Toyota said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Toyota Motorsport will not make any additional comments on this matter at thistime."
Speculationhad spread on Tuesday that Gascoyne had left Toyota due to a breakdown in his relationship with senior management and as part of a major reshuffle.
The Briton, recruited from Renault in October 2003to take charge of chassis development at the factory and at races, is one of the sport's top technical men and is known as an outspoken character.
UntilRed Bull signed Adrian Newey from McLaren this year, he was seen as the sport's highest paid technical director.
Gascoyne started his career as an aerodynamicist at McLaren in 1989and then moved to Tyrrell before a spell as head of aerodynamics at Sauber.
He returned to Tyrrell in 1993 and in 1998 became chief designer at now-defunct Jordan, leaving in 2000for Benetton who then became Renault.