Despite having revealed that he turned down offers from all four Formula One newcomers for 2010, Ralf Schumacher remains a target for at least a couple of existing teams - even if he is keeping shtumm
on possible talks.
The German confirmed, in the wake of brother Michael's much publicised return with Mercedes GP, that he had been given the chance to follow suit, after Campos Meta, Lotus, Virgin and USF1 all made contact [HERE
], but none provided the sort of deal he was looking for.
Speculation, however, continues to link the 180-race veteran with vacancies at both Toro Rosso and Renault for 2010, and he has been less forthcoming with denials that he is in talks with either. Both teams only have one driver confirmed for next season - in the shape of Sebastien Buemi and Robert Kubica respectively - and, while Jaime Alguersuari had been expected to be named as the second drive at Toro Rosso, an announcement has been slow in materialising.
Schumacher was looked after by current Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost during his years either side of his graduation to F1, and later worked with him again at Williams, but denies that there is any more to it than that when the subject of a return with Toro Rosso is raised.
"Franz Tost and I are very good friends," Schumacher told Germany's SID
news agency, "but it should be understood that I am not going to name any teams [with regard to an F1 return]. It is all speculation."
Alguersuari, meanwhile, insists that he signed an extension to his 2009 deal with Toro Rosso that would tie him to the Faenza squad for the foreseeable future, and is surprised that nothing has been made more public.
The youngest driver to win the British F3 title, and then to make his debut F1 following his graduation midway through the 2009 campaign, has been seen as one of the Red Bull programme brightest lights, but was not included on the 2010 entry list revealed by the FIA earlier this month, and now faces question marks over his future with the emergence of the Schumacher rumours and the need for Toro Rosso to build its own car, rather than relying on Red Bull Technologies, for next season.
Ironically, Michael Schumacher was reportedly close to buying out the Toro Rosso operation in 2007 in an effort to retain an involvement in F1 after his retirement from the cockpit. The deal, it was reported, would have seen the German install one Ross Brawn as team leader.....