After Nicola Larini decided to make Macau his last drive in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, Alex Zanardi has now followed suit. BMW Italia works driver Zanardi announced his retirement from the sport, but insisted that he won’t give up racing for good.

The 43-year old said in an interview with Autosport magazine “I will not be back in the WTCC. It’s a shame, but when one door closes a bigger one may open. It can be cool to move when there are new challenges, but there aren’t any yet.”

Zanardi’s career has spanned several championship wins in the US CART series during the ’90s, plus drives in Formula 1 for Williams, Jordan, Minardi and Lotus.

However Alex is perhaps most remembered for his horrific accident driving in the CART series at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz when he was t-boned by Alex Tagliani splitting the monocoque in half and amputating both of his legs above the knee. Zanardi lost a large amount of blood, but he survived and returned to full-time action by entering the 2004 ETCC season wearing prosthetic legs and using steering-wheel mounted hand controls.

Zanardi has been a works driver for German marque BMW during the past 5 years driving for Roberto Ravaglia’s BMW Team Italy-Spain, during which time he scored 4 wins most notably at Istanbul in 2006 and Brno in 2008 and 2009.

Zanardi returned to a Formula 1 car in late November 2006 at a testing session for BMW Sauber in Valencia, Spain. The car had been specially adapted to use hand controls fitted on the steering wheel.

After the drive Zanardi said that the main problem he was having was using only his right hand to steer through corners, as his left operated the throttle. Zanardi was quoted afterwards as saying, “Of course, I know that I won’t get a contract with a Formula One team, but having the chance to drive an F1 racer again is just incredible.”

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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