Zanardi changes to sequential gearbox

Alex Zanardi's BMW

Racing legend Alessandro Zanardi will switch to a sequential gearbox for the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship. The Italian has previously used a normal H-gearbox, operating the clutch pedal with a button on the steering wheel due to his handicap.

"The new sequential gearbox is working fine. Despite the extra 30 kilos we have a good balance in the car and the lap times were almost identical compared to the old gearbox," wrote Zanardi on his webpage. The old system with the previous gearbox hindered Zanardi in some occasions, like at Macau. The other BMW-drivers used the clutch in the very tight hairpins to get the car around quicker, something Zanardi could not do.

"I had thousands other things to do with my other hand controls which made it very hard for me to get around such bends properly. At Macau I for example lost around three or four tenths in that corner. With a sequential gearbox this problem will be resolved," said Zanardi.

A new gearbox is not the only new thing for Zanardi this year. Sergio Hernández will be his new team mate, replacing Félix Porteiro.

"Sergio is a nice guy and a great driver, I am sure that we will get a long well. I am sad to see Félix go though as we have become good friends," said Zanardi.

The season premiere at Curitiba in Brazil is only two weeks away and Zanardi admits that this season is going to be tougher than ever.

"I am not looking for excuses but I have to admit that this season is gonna be tougher than ever for me. Do not expect a lot more of chrono exploits than in the recent past because things will get more complicated, especially in qualifying.

But you do not get points on Saturday therefore I hope I can award you with a good recovery in the opening race in Brazil and with a 'Zanna' tougher than ever. And. well if the ‘doughnut will have the hole' in qualifying too, then I will happily get all these words back!" said Zanardi.