Timo Glock may have started his last race for Toyota in F1, following the announcement by the big-budget Japanese manufacturer that reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi – hotly-tipped for a race seat at the team in 2010 – is to again substitute the German in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.
Glock suffered a cracked vertebra and cut leg in an accident during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka earlier this month, ruling the 27-year-old out of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos just over a week ago and now also, it transpires, the season finale around the all-new, unexplored Yas Marina street circuit in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
With speculation that Glock is to be ditched by Toyota come the end of the campaign – fuelled by a number of less-than-complimentary remarks made to the media by the company's motorsport president John Howett, who has contentiously suggested that rather better and more consistent results should have been possible with the TF109 than the current drivers have delivered – it has been mused that these two late appearances for Kobayashi could be the precursor to a full campaign at the highest level in 2010, possibly alongside Ferrari refugee and former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen.
The 23-year-old triumphed in the 2008/09 GP2 Asia Series, but went on to struggle during the main season itself, notching up just 13 points for DAMS with just a sole podium finish along the way. However, the Hyōgo-born ace produced an eye-catching performance on his F1 debut in São Paulo, qualifying eleventh in tricky conditions that caught out a number of more experienced hands.
He went on to run as high as sixth during the race – doggedly frustrating the ambitions of world champion-elect Jenson Button for lap after lap after lap – and ultimately took the chequered flag just outside of the points in ninth following a brush with Williams compatriot Kazuki Nakajima...even if his somewhat questionable defensive tactics provoked some earnest discussion in the paddock afterwards.
“We feel genuinely sorry for Timo that his season, which has included two impressive podium finishes, is ending in this way,” stated Howett. “Having discussed the medical advice with Timo and his management, the team has decided to take no risk and to put Kamui in the car. Kamui performed well in Brazil in difficult circumstances, so we are happy to ask him to once again deputise.”