James May has said he will not return to Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson, who was dropped from the BBC on March 25.
The Top Gear co-host told the Guardian: “Me and Hammond with a surrogate Jeremy is a non-starter. It has to be the three of us.”
James May added that Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson would be a “tough call” and “a bit of a daft idea”.
“I don’t think you could carry on with two people and put someone in as the new Jeremy because they are not going to be the new Jeremy,” James May said.
“That would be short-sighted and I don’t think it would work. Virtually impossible.”
James May changed his Twitter account to say “former Top Gear presenter” on March 25, the day it was announced Jeremy Clarkson’s contract with BBC would not be renewed.
His contract, and that of his co-presenter Richard Hammond, expired last month.
It raises the possibility of an entirely new presenting line-up for Top Gear.
Channel controller Kim Shillinglaw has been given the job of finding a replacement for Jeremy Clarkson, with former X Factor host Dermot O’Lear and Jodie Kidd rumored to be in the running.
However, James May has said there “might be an opportunity for three of us to get back together on the BBC to do Top Gear or a car show of some sort”.
“The BBC haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return,” he told the Guardian.
“They’ve not banned him or fired him, only just not renewed his contract for the moment. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.”
Earlier this week, Kim Shillinglaw also stressed there was no ban on Jeremy Clarkson returning to the BBC, despite director general Tony Hall’s decision to fire him last month, saying “a line has been crossed”.