Barring unforeseen circumstances between the Japanese and Brazilian grands prix, Olivier Panis' long Formula One career will halt after race number 158, the Frenchman having agreed to stand down from the Brazilian GP in favour of a revised Toyota line-up of Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta.

In order to give new signing Trulli a chance to race ahead of his first full campaign with the team in 2005, Toyota has struck a deal with Panis and Zonta whereby each will miss one of the two final rounds of the current season, in Japan and Brazil. With Zonta being Brazilian, Panis has sportingly agreed to stand down for the Interlagos round, bringing his career to a premature end at Suzuka next weekend.

"I understand how important it is for the team to start working with Jarno as soon as possible," the Frenchman said, secure in the knowledge that he has a reserve role with the team next year, "Toyota asked me to help this process and to leave Ricardo the possibility to race at his home grand prix in Brazil. In consideration of the positive work achieved with Toyota over the last two years, I am willing to give my team mate this opportunity.

"This means that the Japanese Grand Prix will be my last Formula One race, but I look forward to the work which lies ahead of us in the next two years."

Panis' career, while lengthy, has yielded just one win, a surprise victory in the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix while driving for the Ligier team. He made his debut for the French team after impressing in F3000 in 1993, and went on to race for Prost and BAR before joining Toyota for 2003. He also enjoyed a strong testing relationship with McLaren between competitive employment. Missing the Interlagos GP, however, means that he will not book-end his career with races in Brazil.

Zonta is grateful that his team-mate - the two have shared race duties for Toyota since Cristiano da Matta was dropped mid-season - has agreed to stand down for the Brazilian race.

"Although I am naturally disappointed not to be able to race at Toyota's home grand prix at Suzuka next weekend, I understand the importance of bringing Jarno into the race team when we have the opportunity to do so," he said, "On the other hand, I am excited that I will be able to participate at my own home grand prix in Brazil."

Trulli will team up with Ralf Schumacher next season, with Panis staying on in the reserve driver role and Zonta spear-heading testing duties.