Webber linked with Toyota

While Minardi driver Mark Webber is widely expected to sign a Jaguar contract for next year, there is an outside chance that he could partner new Toyota driver Olivier Panis

Webber linked with Toyota

The Australian impressed Jaguar when he tested for the team earlier in the season and it is understood that a race seat is currently on offer if Webber and manager Flavio Briatore are inclined to sign the contract.

Toyota could be regarded as a better longer-term prospect, however, and with the experienced Panis already signed, the company is well placed to opt for a quick, young up and coming driver in the second seat.

Champ Car series leader Cristiano da Matta is still favourite to land the second Toyota seat but if that deal falters, fellow Brazilians Felipe Massa and Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia are also fancied. Massa is unfortunate to have lost his Sauber seat to Heinz-Harald Frentzen and at Spa continued to stake his claim to an alternative race drive by outqualifying team mate Nick Heidfeld for the fourth time this season. Formula 3000 front-runner Pizzonia, meanwhile, has impressed Williams in testing.

Reading between the lines, the problem for Webber is knowing how serious Toyota are given the options available to them. If he held out for that seat and ultimately didn't get it, he could miss the boat at Jaguar.

"Flavio obviously takes my thoughts into consideration, there's no point having these arrangements if that's not the case," Webber said in Belgium, "but he's the one who is closer to Niki Lauda and Ove Andersson and knows how the land lies." Expect the situation to be clearer by Monza in a fortnight.

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