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.
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.”
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.