Toyota driver Mika Salo has announced that he will quit Formula One™ racing at the end of the current season.
It follows Toyota's announcement on Wednesday that they would not be retaining the services of the Finn for 2003.
"It's the end of my Formula One career, I'll be leaving at the end of the season," said Salo, according to news agency AFP.
Toyota signed Frenchman Olivier Panis for the next two seasons on Wednesday, the same day they announced they would not be renewing Salo's contract or that of Scottish driver Allan McNish. Salo's decision brings an end to the career of yet another Finnish Formula One driver, after former world champion Mika Hakkinen's official retirement from the sport only last month. The only remaining Finn is McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Salo, speaking at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, added that he did not want to become a test driver in the twilight of his career, but did not rule out the possibility of lending his experience in auto development, "as Alain Prost did with McLaren".
Mika Salo began his Formula One career with Lotus at the end of the 1994 season. He then spent three years with Tyrrell before moving to Arrows in 1998.
The Finn was left out in the cold in 1999, when Arrows announced just a few weeks before the start of the new season that they would not be retaining him. However, a competent performance replacing the injured Ricardo Zonta at BAR kept him in the minds of F1 personnel.
When Michael Schumacher broke his leg at the British GP later in the year, it was Salo that Ferrari called upon to deputise for him and he performed creditably. Had it not been for team orders helping Eddie Irvine in his title quest, the Finn would have taken his maiden GP win that year, at Hockenheim.
Salo moved to Sauber, retaining his links with Ferrari, for 2000 and turned in many a competent drive. However, he made it clear that he wanted a drive with a team capable of winning, something he obviously did not feel the Swiss team was capable of, and accepted Toyota's offer instead.
He spent a year testing with the Japanese team in 2001, ahead of their Grand Prix debut at the start of this season. He has since scored their only two world championship points to date.