Aleksei Dudukalo could be sacked just one round into his new role with the LADA World Touring Car Championship team, following the Russian driver’s spectacular intra-team qualifying crash with James Thompson in qualifying for last weekend’s opening round at Monza.
According to reports, the team’s main sponsor Lukoil, is reportedly furious with the 36-year-old, who ploughed into the side of Thompson’s LADA Granta after completing missing his braking marks on the approach to Turn 1.
Such was the impact of the collision, both cars were ruled out of Sunday’s two races, leaving the entire Russian team red-faced on the carmaker’s full-time return to the series.
It is now understood that Lukoil is pressuring the team to dump Dudukalo, which the team has all but confirmed is the case when the series goes racing again at Marrakech next month.
“Aleksei is not confirmed for Marrakech,” Lukoil Racing director Evgeny Malinovskiy told AUTOSPORT.
“It will not be an easy decision but I think he goes back to the Russian [touring car] championship.”
The outfit is reportedly considering replacing Dudukalo with fellow Russian racer Mikhail Kozlovskiy, subject to final sign-off from Malinovskiy and team principal Viktor Shapovalov.
Dudukalo’s teammate James Thompson was quick to rush to his defence, despite the accident ruling him out of a front-row start on Sunday’s second race.
“I like Dudukalo, he didn’t do it on purpose,” Thompson said.
“It’s a shame though as I’d have loved to see our potential, particularly from the front row.”