Jarno Trulli was philosophical about his exit from the Caterham F1 team after it was announced that he would be replaced by Vitaly Petrov.
The Italian, a veteran of 256 grands prix, will be absent from the grid at the start of the season, having made his debut in 1997. The one-time GP winner had a contract with Caterham for 2012, but the team replaced him with Petrov, regarded as one of Formula 1's "pay drivers."
Trulli said his exit had not come as a surprise to him, and is hoping the financial backing Petrov brings helps Caterham secure a better future.
"Personally, I'm not displeased: I was prepared for a possible divorce from Caterham, in the knowledge that the difficult economic situation would have pushed the team to find an adequately supported driver," Trulli told the Ansa news agency. "Small teams have certain needs and contracts are clear. I hope that, with Petrov's contribution, all the people who work there can have a more serene future."
Trulli's exit means there will be no Italian drivers in the first race of the season for the first time since 1970 – a turn of events he reckons was inevitable, given the lack of support for young drivers in Italy.
"Formula 1 without Italian drivers is a shame," he said. "I'm sorry, but the problem is not mine: others must take responsibility for this impoverishment, for a situation that after all did not begin yesterday, and over which no action has been taken.
"In Italy, there's no system that helps drivers emerge at high level, so it's normal it ends up in situations like this. There are talents, but without anyone's support they are hopeless. I'd like to see more involvement from everyone, but at such a time of [economic] crisis for the country I can't see how a young driver can find help in order to be considered by any team."
Trulli, 37, said he plans to continue racing in the future despite his exit from Formula 1.
"I own a wine production company and a hotel in Switzerland, so I'm quite busy, but my job is racing driver and that's what I will keep doing, either in Formula 1 or elsewhere."