Faenza (Italy): French driver Sebastien Bourdais was shocked at being fired by Toro Rosso on Thursday, then the four-time Champ Car series winner threatened legal action against the Formula One team.
Toro Rosso said it would announce a replacement for Bourdais ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, ending a disappointing brief stint in the series for the 30-year-old at just over the halfway point of his second season.
I am very disappointed and shocked by the decision, Bourdais said in a statement. I consider that, in doing so, Scuderia Toro Rosso have breached their contractual duties toward me.
Toro Rosso principal Franz Tost said that the partnership has not met our expectations and therefore we have decided to replace him as from the next round of the world championship.
But Bourdais said his behaviour had been professional and the Italian team had violated their contract.
I have instructed my lawyers to review the situation including the possibility of issuing legal proceedings, Bourdais said.
The teams reserve driver, 19-year-old Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, was among the leading contenders to get the drive. If he does, he will be the youngest driver to start an F1 race.
In 2008, Bourdais was outshone by teammate Sebastian Vettel, with the talented German winning the Italian Grand Prix and earning a move this season to Red Bull, where he has emerged as a title contender.
This year, Bourdais was expected to be the senior driver alongside rookie Sebastien Buemi, but the young Swiss earned three points over the opening nine races of the season against two points for Bourdais. Buemi out-qualified Bourdais in seven of nine races.
I am even more frustrated by the teams decision considering that the latter has been taken immediately before the Hungarian Grand Prix, where a new highly competitive racing package will be introduced, Bourdais said. I am convinced that if I was given the chance to race with such new package I would have had the opportunity to achieve satisfactory results.
In all, Bourdais totalled six points from four points finishes across 27 races. He never bettered the effort of his debut in the 2008 Australian Grand Prix when he was running in fourth place and looked like making a podium finish but suffered an engine failure and was classified in seventh.
He suffered bad luck at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, which Vettel went on to win. Having qualified fourth after a rain-soaked qualifying session, Bourdais had a strong chance for a career-best finish, but his car stalled on the grid and by the time he started, he was already a lap down.
Bourdais removal was the first driver change in the 2009 season. (AP)