Tiago Monteiro’s hopes of claiming a maiden FIA World Touring Car Championship title are over after Honda confirmed he will not race at the season-ending Race of Qatar. The ex-Formula 1 driver will, however, be present at the Losail Circuit to cheer on teammate Norbert Michelisz.
Esteban Guerrieri, who drove in place of Monteiro at Japan last month and at Macau last weekend (pictured above), will once again assume stand-in driving duties for Monteiro.
The Portuguese driver has been missing in action since a huge accident in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona in early September. His Honda Civic suffered a brake system failure on approach to Turn 1, sending him into the barriers at nearly unabated speed.
The contact knocked him out and caused nerve compression, blurred vision and ongoing concussion symptoms that forced him to miss the subsequent rounds in China, Japan and Macau.
Monteiro was the leader of the Drivers’ Championship at the time, but his continued absence has seen him drop 55.5 points behind current title leader, Polestar Cyan Racing’s Thed Björk. With a maximum possible haul of 60 points on offer, Monteiro’s title hopes are now finished.
That leaves his teammate Norbert Michelisz as Björk’s main title rival, with the Hungarian lying just 7 points adrift of the Swede.
“While I’m obviously disappointed not to be driving in Qatar, I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of Norbi and Honda becoming WTCC champions and simply wouldn’t dream of not being there with the team and my incredible mechanics to witness what could be an historic moment,” said Monteiro.
“I’ve been part of Honda’s line-up since the inception of the project in 2012 and feel like I’ve made a large contribution; all of which leads up to this moment.
“Realistically, despite having led the championship for much of the year, I knew my title hopes were over when I was unable to race in Macau, so this one feels like less of a blow.
“With a full winter ahead of me to continue my recovery, I’m not going to take any unnecessary risks and instead aim to return to the cockpit of a racing car next year.”
Image via FIA WTCC Media