LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) Germany's Timo Glock will race for the Toyota Formula One team next season, replacing compatriot Ralf Schumacher.
Cologne-based Toyota said in a statement today that the 25-year-old had signed a multi-year deal. He will partner Italian Jarno Trulli.
The contract marks a return to the Formula One starting grid for Glock, the BMW Sauber test driver and winner of the GP2 support series this year, who started four grands prix for now-defunct Jordan in 2004.
It also further narrowed the options open to Spaniard Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who split with Mercedes-powered McLaren this month after a bitter and controversial season.
Alonso is expected to return to Renault, the team that took him to his two titles, with no declared vacancies at any of the other top teams.
Schumacher, the younger brother of retired seven times champion Michael, has also yet to find a drive for 2008 despite assertions that he expects to stay in the sport.
''It's a great feeling to be a Formula One race driver again,'' said Glock, who was rookie of the year in the US ChampCar series in 2005.
''Even though I have not raced in Formula One since 2004, I have tested quite regularly so I expect it will take very little time for me to get back in the groove.
''To return to Formula One racing as GP2 series champion is a real honour and we've all seen how well Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have performed as champions so that is very encouraging,'' he added.
Germany's Rosberg, now with Toyota-powered Williams, and McLaren's Hamilton won the GP2 championship in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
''He has demonstrated a fighting spirit and good race craft in GP2 so we believe he is the right man for the job,'' said Tooyta team boss Tadashi Yamashina.
Toyota, who have yet to win a race in six seasons, said they hoped to reach an agreement with BMW Sauber for Glock to be released to start testing at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain on December 4.
Toyota, with one of the biggest budgets in Formula One, ended the 2007 season in sixth place with 13 points.
REUTERS TB KP1638