French driver Sebastien Bourdais threatened legal action against Toro Rosso after being fired by the Formula One team on Thursday.
Toro Rosso said it would announce a replacement for the four-time Champ Car series winner ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, ending a disappointing brief stint in the series for him 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 has breached its contractual duties toward me.”
Toro Rosso principal Franz Tost said: “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 behavior had been professional and the team had violated their contract.
“I have instructed my lawyers to review the situation including the possibility of issuing legal proceedings,” Bourdais said.
The team’s 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.
Bourdais was outshone by teammate Sebastian Vettel last year, 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.
In all, Bourdais totaled six points from four points finishes across 27 races. He never bettered the effort of his debut in last year’s Australian GP 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 last year’s Italian GP as well, 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 this season.