Luca Badoer has admitted that he wants nothing more than to remain on board the second Ferrari for the Italian Grand Prix, despite two lacklustre outings as replacement for the injured Felipe Massa.
Badoer, who stepped into the breach when Michael Schumacher was ruled out of the substitute role by injury, will start from the rear of the grid in Belgium - just as he did on his return in Valencia a week ago - and looks set to be replaced for the Monza round, with a host of potential replacements being touted as team-mate to Kimi Raikkonen.
Although Massa's chances of returning, as rumoured, appear to have receded following another trip to hospital in Sao Paulo, any number of drivers - both experienced and new to F1 - have been mentioned as being on Ferrari's shopping list for its home round, including Spa polesitter Giancarlo Fisichella. Badoer, meanwhile, showed the effects of a ten-year lay-off as he misjudged a pass on Sebastian Vettel in the closing moments of first qualifying, spinning off and causing the session to end under yellow flags.
“I'm not happy because, this morning, at the end of free practice, I had hoped to make it through to Q2," the Italian admitted, "Unfortunately, partly because of traffic and partly because of a few small problems, I didn't manage to put together a perfect lap. I was counting on doing so on my final run, but there was the incident with Vettel which led to me going off the track.
"That put an end to my qualifying, [but] I have made another step forward in terms of performance, although it's still not enough. For me, the hardest thing is getting into a rhythm and finding the limits of the car. Unfortunately, there's no opportunity to do the testing that would put that right. I am sure that, tomorrow, I will perform better than I did in the Valencia race. I will try and do my best.”
Sensing that his days in F1 may again be numbered - along with his chances of scoring his first point in six years of trying - the 38-year old has almost resorted to pleading for a chance to race in front of the tifosi
in two weeks' time.
"Monza is my home track, the track where I have spent most time in my life," he reasoned, "So, for sure, I can make a big step there. We will see tomorrow, though it's not that we are talking whether I will be there or not. I am sure that, with more races, I can improve."
Ferrari, meanwhile, has produced a tongue-in-cheek list of potential candidates for the second seat at Monza, containing no fewer than 21 names, including Fernando Alonso - who is already being linked to the team for 2010 - and MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.
"It might not be the best season [for Ferrari], but the possibility to drive one of the red cars must be very appetising, at least when one considers the number of drivers who have been brought up by the media and the fans - and even by some of the drivers themselves - as candidates."