Toyota team principal John Howett admits he is drawing up a shortlist of drivers that could occupy a seat alongside Jarno Trulli next year, but stressed Ralf Schumacher is very much on it.

While Trulli is guaranteed a drive with Toyota to the end of the 2009 season, the owner of the second seat in 2008 remains one of the key questions yet to be answered as the infamous 'silly season' reaches its peak.

Up until a few races ago, most had predicted that Schumacher would be on his way out of the team after a dismal start to the season that even kick started rumours he was due to be replaced mid-season.

Nonetheless, the German's form has picked up in recent races, culminating in his best result of the season last time out in Hungary, something that is likely to confuse matters for Toyota team bosses.

"I guess it's no secret, really," Howett explained. "Jarno has a contract and we're in discussion with Ralf and we're studying the driver market and Ralf is still definitely on our list.

"He's doing a very good job at the moment, as we've seen in the last two or three races and we're just not prepared at this moment to make a decision which is very tough and I have a great deal of personal sympathy with Ralf but that's the position.

Several names have been linked with the second seat at Toyota, with Nick Heidfeld originally favourite before he committed his future to BMW. In addition, Nico Rosberg, Takuma Sato, Adrian Sutil and Kazuki Nakajima have been mooted too, but Howett claims the team have plenty of time to make a decision.

"We're waiting to see what moves and I can assure you that Ralf is on our list. We feel that we can wait longer."

 

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