F1 returnee Luca Badoer has hit back at those who have criticised his form in Valencia ahead of this weekend's European Grand Prix in the city, arguing that it is not fair to rate his performance against those of other 'new' boys Romain Grosjean and Jaime Alguersuari.
Badoer has not raced at the highest level for the best part of a decade, but has been recalled to competitive action by Ferrari following the accident suffered by Felipe Massa in qualifying for last month's Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, which left the Brazilian hospitalised for nine days and facing a lengthy recovery process from a fractured skull and serious eye injuries.
After lapping some way off the pace in practice around the Valencia Street Circuit – a track that is new to him, and far from the easiest on the grand prix calendar to learn – Badoer went on to qualify last, almost a full second-and-a-half adrift of the next-slowest driver, Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Jaime Alguersuari.
However, with no racing under his belt since 1999, little knowledge of Ferrari's F60 and a whole heap of expectations upon his shoulders, the Italian insisted he should not be judged in the same way as Alguersuari and Renault debutant Romain Grosjean, respectively 1.5 seconds and 2.1 seconds quicker than him in the initial Q1 qualifying phase under the Spanish sun.
“One (Alguersuari) has already raced one time,” contended the 38-year-old, who started 48 grands prix for BMS Scuderia Italia and Minardi between 1993 and 1999, “and the other one (Grosjean) was racing GP2 and knows this track. It's a completely different situation; you cannot compare this situation.”