Alessandro Zanardi tests for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in Valencia.
Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) makes his return to the cockpit of a Formula One car. On the occasion of the DELL Formula BMW World Final, the 40-year-old will take to the track at the wheel of a modified BMW Sauber F1.06 at Valencia from 24th to 26th November.
By driving for the BMW Sauber F1 Team, Zanardi will enter motor racing's history books once more: He will be the first person who has his legs amputated to test an F1 machine. In 2001, he lost both his legs in an accident at the German Lausitzring. As a BMW Team Italy-Spain driver, he celebrated an impressive comeback racing touring cars and has won two rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) to date.
Zanardi said: "First of all I would like to say thank you to BMW for this opportunity. That's just amazing for me. Of course, I know that I won't get a contract with the Formula One team. However, having the chance to drive an F1 racer again is just incredible. Formula One is all about development speed. Therefore, I'm really excited to see what has changed since my last Grand Prix in 1999."
"I can call myself a very happy man, as I turned my passion into my profession. Despite having been a race driver for quite a while now, I still feel the fire burning in me. Formula One is - and will always be - the pinnacle of motor racing. I can hardly wait for the moment, when the V8 engine is started."
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen commented: "Alessandro Zanardi is a truly impressive character. With an unprecedented show of will and dedication, he fought his way back into motor racing and now proves in the WTCC that he is able to win races at the highest level. It was rather a joke when he asked me at the beginning of the year, if he could do an F1 test with us. We will give him this chance now, the engineers made it possible. I cannot wait to watch his reaction after the test."
Zanardi will conduct the Formula One drives in a BMW Sauber F1.06 that differs in many ways to the car that is used by the BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers. The car features a special brake pedal, which has been moved to the right side of the cockpit. A conventional throttle is missing. To accelerate the car, Zanardi will use the shifting paddle on the left rear side of the steering wheel, which has been modified for this purpose. The paddle travel was increased considerably, in order to allow the right throttle percentage and smooth acceleration.
Between 1991 and 1999 Zanardi contested 41 Formula One Grands Prix. In addition, he won the US CART series in 1997 and 1998. On 19th November in Macau, Zanardi wants to help BMW to defend the Manufacturers' title in the WTCC.
-credit: bmw motorsport