Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda has called upon his former employers Ferrari to replace the struggling Luca Badoer with Belgian Grand Prix hero Giancarlo Fisichella for the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Rumours have been sweeping the F1 paddock for the past few days that the Force India veteran – who stunned observers by breaking the small Silverstone-based squad's points duck at the highest level with a superb and fully deserved second place to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend – might well switch from his current team to the Scuderia
for his home race in a week-and-a-half's time, but as of yet no official announcement has been forthcoming.
German magazine Sport Bild
claims discussions between the two parties began as early as last Wednesday, whilst the Bild am Sonntag
newspaper reports that Force India still owes Ferrari money for the engines it was supplied with by the Prancing Horse last year.
Badoer has failed to perform since returning to the top flight in place of the injured Felipe Massa following a nigh-on ten-year absence from competition, qualifying and finishing last in both of his appearances in Valencia and Spa and languishing as much as two seconds off the pace of 2007 F1 World Champion Raikkonen in the sister scarlet machine.
“Ferrari must absolutely get Fisichella into the cockpit at Monza,” Lauda asserted in an interview with Switzerland's Sonntagsblick
. “They can't afford to muck about with Badoer any longer. If Force India have financial concerns, then surely the transfer sum paid by Ferrari would help.”