Ferrari has revealed that Luca Badoer is likely to remain in the cockpit of Felipe Massa's F60 for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in just under a week's time, despite the Italian's distinctly underwhelming return to active F1 competition in Valencia at the weekend.
After ten years away from the starting grid, Badoer returned with a whimper rather than a bang in the European Grand Prix, languishing some way off the pace throughout practice – and picking up a record four pit-lane speeding penalties along the way – and qualifying plum last, almost 1.5 seconds adrift of the next slowest competitor and a full 2.6 seconds away from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the sister F60.
That was followed by a scrappy race performance, during the course of which the 38-year-old found himself tapped into a spin by Renault debutant Romain Grosjean on the opening lap – after making up a staggering six spots from the grid position – later lost a position to the Swiss-born Frenchman with a pondering exit from the pit-lane, earned a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line upon leaving the pits and then spun again en route
to an eventual 17th and last position at the chequered flag.
That said, the man from Montebelluna did significantly improve his lap times as the race progressed and his confidence rose, winding up just 1.9 seconds shy of the ultimate pace – when he had been more than twice that far off – and under 1.4 seconds away from Raikkonen. Ferrari are adamant that it will be a different Badoer who turns up at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in a few days' time.
“Yes, I think so,” AFP
quotes the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali as having said, when asked if the former International F3000 (now GP2 Series) champion would still be in the #3 car in Belgium. “We will speak together. I think we will discuss it, but I think it is important to keep Luca because he is a real team player and this is important in Ferrari.
“First of all it was important for him to finish. It was difficult you know... We need to stay cool and calm and we know that it was important for Luca to finish. I respect that. I'm sure that we have seen a Luca that has not really shown up, but he has real potential. Apart from the fact he was racing for the first time in a long time, also from a psychological point-of-view, the pressure on him was very high, even if we didn't create it.”
“I'm very happy because we have arrived at a point that we fixed when we decided I would take Felipe's place,” added Badoer of taking the chequered flag in Spain. “This is the first step. I drove, drove, drove, drove Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I actually made a big start and at the third corner I was 14th and then a Renault kicked my ass!
“I lost the position from that. Otherwise it would have been possible to have a completely different race. For me it was important to finish the race and get a good feeling with the car.”
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher has insisted that he will not change his mind and return to action in place of Badoer at either Spa or Monza a fortnight later – and refuted speculation that a 2010 comeback, possibly in a third Ferrari, is still a possibility, affirming that he has no desire to rejoin the grand prix grid full-time.