Luca Badoer has contended that it would be 'absurd' for Ferrari to replace him for the upcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza in just under a fortnight's time – adding that if there is still no improvement on the Scuderia's
home turf, he will voluntarily relinquish his seat.
Badoer is standing in for the injured Felipe Massa until the Brazilian recovers sufficiently from the eye and head injuries he sustained in a qualifying accident at the Hungaroring last month to be able to rejoin the grid. However, after languishing some way off the pace on his return to Formula 1 competition in the European Grand Prix in Valencia – almost a full decade on from his last competitive appearance at the highest level – the 38-year-old remained slowest of all at Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend, both qualifying and finishing last in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Worse still, a fastest race lap almost a second-and-a-half adrift of that of the next-slowest finisher around the challenging Ardennes circuit – and more than two seconds shy of race-winning team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – means the knives are out for Badoer, with his period of grace over.
The English-speaking media has already rather uncharitably dubbed the man from Montebelluna 'Look How Bad You Are', whilst Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
conducted a poll in which more than 80 per cent of its readers believed the former International F3000 Champion had to go. Force India's Spa hero Giancarlo Fisichella was the overwhelming favourite to take his place.
However, the man yet to trouble the scorers in 51 grand prix starts – an unenviable record – points to the fact that not only has he had to return to racing after an absence of nigh-on ten years, but he is also having to get used to the F60 for the first time, given the sport's new in-season testing ban. Give him just one more race, he says, and then judge.
“I can say that after two races, I have much more of a grip on this mountain of things to learn,” Badoer is quoted as having said by Reuters
. “From these two grands prix I have learnt so much and grown in experience. From my point-of-view, it would be a shame to change things now.
“Monza, Mugello and Fiorano are the tracks where I have driven most in my life. It would be absurd and I would be very disappointed [if he were to be replaced for the Italian Grand Prix], because I am convinced that at Monza I have the feeling needed.
“Going to a track that I could drive with my eyes closed, I am sure I could get a good result. If I had to set myself a deadline, maybe I would do it for after Monza. I would be the first to say 'lads, it's not working out'.”
The Prancing Horse's team principal Stefano Domenicali has revealed that Ferrari will make a decision on who is to drive at Monza within the next three days [see separate story – click here