Gabriele Tarquini has revealed details of his dismissal from the Honda World Touring Car Championship team, saying he was told by the Japanese marque that he was too old.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, the 53-year-old said that his age was given as the main factor for why his contract was not renewed.
He also said that he expects his place alongside Tiago Monteiro in the official Honda team to be taken by Zengo Motorsport driver Norbert Michelisz.
“At first, they asked me if I still wanted to race, but I told them that I was not going to stop, which put them in a bit of difficulty,” Tarquini explained.
“They want to change the driver line-up, and for them I would be too old; this was the reason that they gave me.
“They certainly have chosen between me, Monteiro and Michelisz. Of all the Honda drivers, I am the oldest.
“I disagree with their choice, but I accept that, because my contract is expiring, it is in their power to decide what to do.”
Plans to keep racing
Asked if he will definitely leave the WTCC, Tarquini said: “The door is not closed completely, but to be honest my hopes are really limited because the seats in the official teams are already pretty much taken.
“There are still seats with private teams, but this isn’t particularly appealing for me. I need to have a think.”
For its part, Honda has indicated a preference to continue working with Tarquini on one of its other touring car programmes, with its TCR effort thought to be a possible destination for the 2009 WTCC champion.
“I do not deny that [TCR] could be a very valuable alternative,” admitted Tarquini. “I have followed it from the outside and I can see the boom it has enjoyed in its first season.
“It was offered to me, why not? I still want to race, so TCR would surely be an option.”
Interview by Francesco Corghi