1 January 1901
Alesi: Salo Is Wrong Choice.
Sauber star Jean Alesi has slammed Ferrari's decision to appoint Mika Salo as Michael Schumacher's replacement - despite turning down the job himself.
Alesi, a former favourite with the Ferrari faithful, said that he would have had no hesitation in choosing the Scuderia's regular tester Luca Badoer over the Finn, and cannot understand why Ferrari plumped for a driver without a regular seat.
"Ferrari's choices are not my business," Alesi admitted, "but, in my opinion, any comparison between Mika Salo and Luca Badoer would have gone Badoer's way. I just cannot understand why Salo has been chosen. For me, Badoer would win 1000-1."
Alesi was understood to be high on Ferrari's list of possible replacements, but declined to fill in because, he claimed, he only wanted to return to Maranello alongside the German - and not instead of him.
"I'm not interested in replacing him for these two months," Alesi continued, "It really doesn't interest me at all. Michael is a friend, and I am fond of Ferrari, but I can't go there under these conditions."
Salo, meanwhile, has been knuckling down to his first tests with the team, and has vowed to help Ferrari beat McLaren this season. The seat with Ferrari also gives the Finn a chance to directly renew his rivalry with old adversary Mika Hakkinen.
"I used to beat him all the time [in F3]," Salo grinned, "and I'm sure I can do it again in Formula One. The drivers' championship isn't my objective, but Ferrari are top of the constructors' championship, and my job will be to keep that position to the end."
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