As expected ever since BMW Sauber accepted that he was free to leave its fold, Timo Glock will make his return to a full-time Formula One race role next season, having been confirmed by Panasonic Toyota Racing.

The new GP2 Series champion has been involved in a tug-of-love between the two teams since clinching the title, although BMW Sauber could not offer him a race seat without dispensing with either Nick Heidfeld or Robert Kubica. Ironically, both drivers have been linked to other teams in recent weeks - Heidfeld to McLaren and Kubica, ironically, to Toyota - but Glock decided that he would rather secure something concrete rather than wait and take his chances.

"It's a great feeling to be a F1 race driver again and I am really looking forward to this new challenge," the German commented, "I have worked hard over the past few years to get this opportunity and I must say I am grateful to Panasonic Toyota Racing for having faith in me."

Glock has signed a multi-year contract with the Cologne-based outfit, where he expects to partner F1 veteran Jarno Trulli. Toyota now hopes an agreement can be reached with BMW Sauber to allow him to test at Jerez over 4-6 December.

"I am convinced Timo has the potential to help this team move forward and achieve its aims," Toyota F1 chairman and team principal Tadashi Yamashina said, "He has great experience of motorsport in several different categories and reinforced his reputation by winning the highly competitive GP2 Series, which we have already seen is fantastic preparation for F1. He has demonstrated a fighting spirit and good race craft in GP2 so we believe he is the right man for the job."

Glock becomes the third straight GP2 champion to earn an F1 race drive, following Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, but has had to take a somewhat tortuous route back to the top flight after running impressively in a handful of races with Jordan back in 2004, when he scored on debut at the Canadian GP but could not secure a seat for 2005.

Now 25, the German turned his attention to Champ Cars, where he won the rookie of the year award for Rocketsports in 2005, before returning to Europe and GP2 the following season, determined to make it to F1. A mid-season switch to iSport International proved the catalyst to this season's championship campaign.

His arrival at Toyota ensures the team of a continued German presence following its split with Ralf Schumacher, while Trulli is now expected to continue as team leader, despite rumours that the team has been talking to the out-of-work Fernando Alonso. It is thought, however, that the Spaniard has turned his back on a lucrative offer to find more competitive employment as Toyota continues to make an impact on F1.

 

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