"Formula One rookie Antonio Pizzonia has admitted that he was caught unawares by the news that Jaguar Racing intended to replace him with Justin Wilson from next weekend's German Grand Prix - but refuses to call time on his short grand prix career.
The Brazilian ended last Sunday's British GP parked at Stowe corner with an engine failure, but was upbeat enough about his recent performances to tell the media that he was fully looking forward to Hockenheim.
However, less than 24 hours after pulling off with his Cosworth V10 trailing a plume of white smoke, 'Jungle Boy' found himself on the F1 sidelines for good, as Wilson was drafted in from Minardi to partner Mark Webber for the rest of the season.
"The sudden decision by Jaguar Racing not to let me continue as a full-time Formula One driver came as a complete shock to me," Pizzonia, who survived another potential 'sacking' at the Spanish GP in May, admitted, "As the season has progressed, my performances have improved."
The former British F3 Championship winner had indeed found better form after receiving a vote of confidence from the Jaguar management in Barcelona, but it was not enough to secure his seat for the rest of 2003. Even though the rumour mill suggested that he would be out of a job at the end of the season, Pizzonia was offered another role within the team, but decided to explore other opportunities.
"As has been widely reported, Jaguar offered me a reserve driver and testing role - but I have declined this," he confirmed, "I now have to reflect on what has happened and decide which is the best course of action for me to take. However, I fully intend to pursue my career in Formula One."
The most obvious escape route - a seat swap with Wilson - was closed off by Minardi boss Paul Stoddart's decision to hire F3000 frontrunner Nicolas Kiesa to replace the Briton, leaving Pizzonia with time to consider his options for next season. Until then, he has thanked both the media and the fans for their support, but asked for time and space to compose his thoughts before making any further announcements"
MSN Groups - Formula One