Zanardi, Alguersuari, Senna linked with DTM move

Three well-known F1 names are being linked with the premier German touring car championship DTM.

When former F1 and Champ Car driver Alex Zanardi recently tested a modified hand-controlled BMW, the 46-year-old played down suggestions his next project could be a DTM race seat. But Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said there is a chance the popular Italian will soon be chosen by BMW.

“Who will drive the eighth BMW M3 DTM in the coming season will be announced at a later date,” a spokesman is quoted as saying.

Former Toro Rosso driver and 2012 Pirelli tester Jaime Alguersuari has also been linked with the seat. And Portuguese reports say 2012 Williams driver Bruno Senna, who has been replaced for 2013 by Valtteri Bottas, did some test laps at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz DTM car at the Estoril circuit at the beginning of this week.


Zanardi doubts DTM test prelude to race seat

Alex Zanardi has this week tested a hand-controlled DTM car, however the former F1 driver has played down expectations a race seat in the premier German touring car series could be his next project.

The highly popular 46-year-old Italian secured the test due to his long-standing links with BMW, who modified a M3 DTM car and painted it gold just for the Nurburgring outing. A media statement said the German marque went to the effort to pay tribute to Zanardi’s “outstanding sporting achievements”, including his handcycling medals won at the London paralympics.

“I still have a passion for racing,” said Zanardi. “However, I’m not sure whether our demonstration drive will be anything more than just that, as the level in the DTM may possibly prove to be too high for someone of my age.”


Indy another option as Zanardi takes next step

SIndycar could be another option as Alex Zanardi prepares to take his next step.

The former F1 driver recently won double Paralympics gold in hand-cycling, revealing afterwards that he is now considering a return to his sport of choice. After losing his legs in a 2001 CART crash, the now 45-year-old Italian has tested hand-controlled Champ Car and F1 single seaters and won races in a BMW touring car.

It emerged earlier this week that a DTM foray with BMW next year could be an option, and now his former Indy boss Chip Ganassi has revealed talks with Zanardi.

“We are talking to him but we’ll have to see; talk is cheap,” Ganassi, who is also involved in sports car and Nascar racing, is quoted by the Telegraph. “But it would be a dream come true to bring him back; it would be as big as it gets.

“I’d sure like to do it and I wouldn’t want him returning with anybody else,” added Ganassi.


Zanardi eyes DTM with BMW

With fresh Paralympic gold around his neck, Alex Zanardi is eyeing the German touring car series DTM as his next goal.

Since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, the former F1 driver has completed the last laps of that ill-fated CART race, won world touring car races for BMW, tested a BMW-Sauber, and soared to the very top of the world of hand-cycling. According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, he is now keen to smell burning rubber again.

A spokesman for BMW confirmed that the 45-year-old Italian has been in contact — about DTM.

“If he had his way,” said the spokesman, “he would be with us at the next race. “We are not saying categorically no, but also not categorically yes.”

BMW motor sport director Jens Marquardt added: “There are many issues to be considered first of all, from a purely design point of view, and also for safety.” And the spokesman explained that there is probably not time to explore the possibility this season.

Before winning four races in a hand-controlled WTCC car for BMW Team Italy-Spain, Zanardi contested 44 grands prix for Jordan, Minardi, Lotus and Williams.


Zanardi: I think Ferrari will replace Massa

Alex Zanardi thinks it is now “inevitable” Ferrari will replace Felipe Massa at the end of the season.

The Italian, whose return to F1 in 1999 ended after just one disappointing season with Williams, thinks struggling Brazilian Massa has “run out of excuses” as he continues to flounder behind his standout teammate Fernando Alonso.

“For me, Felipe is a driver with great qualities, but his anxiety crisis got the better of him,” Zanardi, who returned to American open-wheeler racing after leaving F1 and lost his legs in a crash in 2001, told the Italian magazine Autosprint. “I think if he had tried to be himself, and not Alonso, I’m sure that by now he would have seen the podium quite often.

“But, after all, he is a human being, and more ‘Latin’ than Fernando in the sense that the British give to the word. It’s a difficult job, and definitely not easier if you drive for Ferrari. For me, though, at this point of the season, the time for excuses has run out.

“Ferrari will have to stand by him and see if the guy comes out of the crisis, because there are important points that they can bring in 2012. But I have to say at this point that I think it is inevitable that they (Ferrari) will replace him.”

Zanardi, now preparing to race in the hand-cycling classes at the Paralympics, said that in a ‘free market’ situation, Lewis Hamilton would be his number one choice to replace Massa.

“Number two,” he explained, “is Edoardo Mortara.” Mortara, 25, was the 2010 F3 euroseries champion who now races for Team Rosberg in DTM.

“If I was Ferrari, I would do with him (Mortara) what McLaren did with Lewis. But if we’re talking about someone for just one season, then I would take someone like Paul di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg,” said Zanardi.

The best car of 2012, Zanardi said, is the black and gold one fielded by Lotus.

“You know why?” said the 45-year-old. “Because as I always said to Morris Nunn — the best car is not the fastest, it’s the one that allows you to put the wheels where you want them.”

Zanardi told the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail recently that, after the Paralympics, his next goal might be to race a hand-controlled car at the fabled Indy 500.

“In a perfect world,” he said, “Chip Ganassi would call me and ask if I wanted to do the Indy 500. That would be cool. Let me do this first and then we will see.”