Toyota: Williams F1 & Jarno Trulli out?

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Toyota announced to day that there is a likelihood that they will not close negotiation gaps with current driver Jarno Trulli. Trulli, a 5-year veteran of the team, says that cash is not an issue but the team is looking for cost-cutting opportunities. What do you think? Good move? Bad move?

Team boss John Howett told Reuters:

“We are in negotiation (with Trulli) and we haven’t reached an agreement and there is a possibility that we won’t close the gap,” he told Reuters after qualifying for Sunday’s European Grand Prix.

“At the moment the gap is reasonably large,” added Howett. “We have to say there is a very strong probability not (to renew).”

In other news, Williams F1 is seeking to end their engine supply agreement with Toyota for the 2010 season. Sir Frank Williams, team owner, told Autosport that the decision would be made soon:

“It will be quite soon,” he said. “We have got to find a way to put it into a car, haven’t we?”

“The paddock is full of gossip,” he said when asked if Renault was his preferred option. “Tomorrow it might be Mercedes-Benz, and then the next day Ferrari – and I get a free car with it!”

The response from Toyota’s John Howett was one of caution and perhaps insight:

“It is a slightly complex situation,” team president John Howett told AUTOSPORT. “The original document we gave the right for Williams to seek an alternative engine. The basis was that should they get a free engine in the future, perhaps from a new entrant manufacturer, then we would not be there to damage Williams in any way with purely contractual relations.

“Earlier this year they pushed us to sign an extension agreement covering specifically next year, which we have concluded, but they are asking, or seeking, to find an alternative supplier.

“Toyota’s position is normally flexible. If they do not wish to take our engine, I don’t really feel materially, provided we can reduce the stock and are not left with any liability, that we hold them to the contract.”

Let’s consider that Howett is correct and perhaps Renault is providing a lump (engine) for free. That makes the decision relatively straightforward considering that the Renault engine has done well by Red Bull (save versus this weekends failure in Sebastian Vettel’s car) and there is no question the price is right.

On the other hand, I can’t shake the feeling that Williams could be seriously considering the Cosworth options as well. If it came down to Renault for free or Cosworth for $5MM; I’d take the Renault. Because who wouldn’t want the opportunity to work with the Flav?

If Nico Rosberg leaves Williams F1 for McLaren or any other team and they part company with Toyota as an engine supplier; we might have two new drivers in a Williams next year. If Sir Frank’s word about Nick Heidfeld were not just smoke and mirrors, perhaps the German could find another home at Williams again?

Also, Timo Glock could stay at Toyota as they have an option on him. This, I think, is a good idea. I think Glock is unproven in a larger sense and proven in a work-a-day sense. He has shown spirit, determination and grit. If Toyota were looking for inexpensive driver, perhaps Kaz Nakajima would fit the bill seeing as a Williams F1 without Toyota lumps would have little reason to field a Japanese driver.

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