Yuji Ide’s Formula One career has hit the buffers after Formula One chiefs decided he was too dangerous to be allowed to race.
The 31-year-old Japanese rookie has endured a baptism of fire with newcomers Super Aguri and was under pressure even before his calamitous San Marino Grand Prix two weeks ago.
At Imola, he pushed Christijan Albers’ Midland into a multiple roll after an ill-judged first-lap move, which came on the back of several spins throughout the weekend.
Ide, who ran over a mechanic in Bahrain on his debut, earned a reprimand from Imola stewards – and his Super Aguri team were advised to relegate him to third driver by world governing body FIA.
His involvement in this weekend’s European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring will be restricted to practice tomorrow, his race seat going to Frenchman Franck Montagny.
News that Ide will be asked to test more before being allowed to race was welcomed by his fellow drivers, although Nick Heidfeld had doubts over the Formula Nippon driver’s ultimate potential.
“I don’t think it will change a lot if he does more testing,” said the BMW-Sauber driver.
McLaren star Kimi Raikkonen breathed a sigh of relief that Ide is unlikely to be behind the wheel on the unforgiving Monaco streets later this month.
The Finn said: “It could have been a big disaster in Monaco. It is a good thing [he has been dropped].
“I’m sure he is a nice guy. But he was quite slow and he was spinning quite often – you never knew if he was going to spin in front of you.”
Red Bull’s Christian Klien drew sniggers from Michael and Ralf Schumacher when he observed: “It is interesting to see his lines – sometimes they are different to ours.”
One of few people to have any sympathy for Ide was his Imola victim Albers, who claimed: “Sometimes we are too hard on a guy like that. Maybe we should give him more space.”
Ide’s misfortune has gifted former Renault tester Montagny the chance to make his first Formula One start, becoming the first Frenchman since Olivier Panis in 2004 to compete.
Ide could still return to a Super Aguri cockpit later in the year, according to team boss Aguri Suzuki who has marketed his team as an all-Japanese effort.
He said: “I will continue to look after Yuji’s interests and support his continuing efforts within the team, including his path back to a Formula One race seat.”