Vitantonio Liuzzi claims he was already talking to other teams before it was revealed he was to be ousted from the Scuderia Toro Rosso team in 2008, the Italian admitting he has high hopes of staying in Formula 1.

With Scott Speed already having been shown the door following the arrival of Sebastian Vettel, it was long expected that Liuzzi would also follow, the inevitable eventually occurring last week when Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais was confirmed for next year.

It leaves Liuzzi, who came to Formula 1 in 2005 on a wave of publicity as Red Bull's test driver having become the 2004 Formula 3000 Champion, without a drive for 2008.

Nonetheless, the Italian denies the decision to drop him came as a surprise, Liuzzi claiming that he knew what was to come when Toro Rosso invited Bourdais to test over the winter. Furthermore, when sister team Red Bull confirmed they would be retaining Mark Webber and David Coulthard, Liuzzi claims that was the prompt he needed to actively start looking elsewhere.

"I started to look around 2 months ago, since I decided not to return to Toro Rosso," he told "Many contradictory episodes happened in 2007, so I wanted to move on. I'm talking with a couple of high-level teams, but I'm not mentioning their name. I'm also looking to the USA, more at ChampCar than IndyCar, but my main goal is to stay in Formula 1; I feel like I've a lot yet to prove."

"I'm working to be back racing in 2008, but a chance as a test driver won't be ruled out. It depends from the team; I'm talking with several major squads, in which a test role could be very pleasant. We'll see."

Blaming dismal reliability of his Toro Rosso for his failure to improve upon the single point he achieved in the United State Grand Prix in 2006, Liuzzi went on to reveal that his high-profile successor Bourdais didn't impress him during testing.

"Bourdais is with no doubt a very strong driver, he won 3 Champ Car titles, but in the tests he made with Toro Rosso he didn't turn impressive lap times. He performed fairly well, but nothing special."

With free drives in the top fight scarce, Liuzzi faces a fight to remain in Formula 1, but rumours have placed him at Williams for 2008, although his Red Bull funds could make him an attractive proposition in the United States. Nonetheless, Liuzzi claims he is not keen to merely rely on Red Bull for support.

"I'd like to continue with Red Bull, that supported my career since 2001, and I owe a lot to Dieter Mateschitz for what he did for me," he added. "On the other hand, I've never been part of Red Bull's drivers development program, as mine was an hybrid situation. Peter Collins, my manager since my racing debut, found in Red Bull a financial support, but we are independent in making choices."



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