A report that Ralf Schumacher is taking a year off from racing increased speculation on Thursday that his Formula One career may be permanently over.
German news agency DPA said it had learned of the break from people associated with the 32-year-old Schumacher, who left the Toyota team last month. The agency gave no names and the German driver was not available for comment.
Schumacher hasn't been able to sign on with an established team for the coming season, which starts March 16 with the Australian Grand Prix.
Schumacher is the younger brother of retired seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher.
"It could be this is my last drive in a Formula One car," Schumacher said after a test for the small Force India team three weeks ago.
Only a handful of drivers have been able to make a successful return to Formula One from a long break. Frenchman Alain Prost came back from a 1992 sabbatical to win a fourth title the following year.
Schumacher raced three years for Toyota without winning a grand prix. In his career, he finished first six times in 180 races and reached the podium 27 times.
Schumacher was replaced at Toyota by Timo Glock, a 25-year-old German coming off the GP2 Series title.