Scuderia Toro Rosso has refused to deny mounting speculation that Sebastien Bourdais is facing the axe from the team after this weekend's German Grand Prix.
The Frenchman has endured a disappointing campaign, having not made the step forward that the team had been hoping for from a second-year driver. And speculation is gathering momentum that unless there is a dramatic turnaround in his fortunes at the Nurburgring this weekend, the team will move to replace him for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
It is believed that favorite to land the seat alongside Sebastien Buemi is newly promoted reserve driver Jaime Alguersuari. Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost would not be drawn on the questions about Bourdais' future, or if Alguersuari was in contention to step up to a race seat.
"We do not comment on rumors that are started in the media," said Tost, in a comment that fell short of being a denial.
Although British Formula 3 champion Alguersuari does not have much F1 experience, the opportunity of stepping up to a race seat now would at least give him the chance to learn ahead of a full campaign in 2010. The in-season testing ban currently in place gives no other opportunity for young drivers to test, so the only way to get mileage is actually on grand prix weekends.
Bourdais himself has denied any knowledge of his drive being under threat, despite the speculation that emerged in the French press earlier this week.
"This rumor has been around since the middle of last season," Bourdais said yesterday. "What can I say? I haven't received any notice from the team that this is my last race so as far as I am concerned it is still a rumor.
"I've got a job to do and that's what I've got to concentrate on. I can't control what people say or where it is coming from. It's very unfortunate but there's nothing we can do about it. Someone puts it out and now it is all over the place."
Bourdais is not the only driver who could be replaced for Hungary, with sources suggesting that Renault will likely move to replace Nelson Piquet for the Budapest race as well. The Brazilian has failed to score a single point so far this year and should he be dropped then favorite to stand in alongside Fernando Alonso is reserve driver and GP2 Series leader Romain Grosjean.