Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica: Who will take Massa’s place at Valencia?

Michael Schumacher last tested for Ferrari in 2008

Michael Schumacher last tested for Ferrari in 2008

Thankfully the prognosis for Felipe Massa seems to be getting better with every passing day. Though hope continues to grow he may be able to return to racing in the future, it looks increasingly unlikely he will be able to do so in Valencia next month.

It leaves Ferrari in the same place they were in with Michael Schumacher ten years ago, hunting for a replacement for an injured driver.

The internet has been buzzing with rumours that Schumacher himself could be srafted in to take Massa’s place. Fernando Alonso, who could be without a drive for his home race after Renault’s suspension, has also been linked to the number three car. Who will end up in the seat?

Update: Official: Michael Schumacher to return for Ferrari in the European Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher

The man himself has not said whether he would drive for the team or not – and there have been mixed messages from those close to him.

His spokesperson Sabine Kehm indicated he might return to his old team:

The whole thing will be considered by Ferrari. If they approach Michael, then he will consider it. But there is no reason for him to step into their discussion. Usually, I would say he’s not interested because he’s fine with his life and he doesn’t miss anything but now the situation is so different – it’s very hypothetical.
Sabine Kehm

Luca Colajanni added:

We have said before that it is possible that Michael Schumacher could return to help us out… We have two test drivers at Ferrari (Luca Badoer and Marc Gene) at the moment and Michael is an advisor. We have not spoken to him, but it is possible that this might happen. But we will have to wait and see what happens. It is something for (Ferrari team principal) Stefano Domenicali to consider over the coming weeks.
Luca Colajanni

But manager Willi Weber has consistently denied the rumours.

Whoever sits in the car at the next race in Valencia, it will not be Michael Schumacher. I am not 100 per cent sure; I am 200 per cent sure. The pressure on him would be huge. He would be expected to win, but he has not driven this car. When Michael was racing he would get as close to perfection as possible. In this case, it would not be perfection; it would be a gamble – and that’s not Michael’s style.
Willi Weber

Managers, however, are paid to get the most money for their clients – and they do not do that by willingly offering them up.

There are more practical reasons why Schumacher might not take up the drive. He hurt his neck in a bike crash in February. And questions remain about his willingness to partner top-level drivers like Kimi Raikkonen.

Fernando Alonso

With Renault banned from the Valencia race, and Fernando Alonso having been linked to a future Ferrari drive for some time, it’s not surprising that some people have put two and two together and begun to wonder if Alonso might appear in Ferrari overalls soon.

In reality there would be significant contractural obligations to overcome. He is employed by Renault and has various personal sponsorships. Whether he could make the leap to Ferrari depends on whether Renault’s suspension from the Valencia race might be sufficient to activate any break clauses Alonso might be able to take advantage of.

On the other hand you have to question how desirable it might be for Ferrari to have Alonso in for just one race before a likely return to Renault, and then have to find another replacement.

Added to that, with Renault planning to appeal their suspension it is not even certain Alonso will be available.

Robert Kubica

In a similar vein to Alonso, the news BMW are withdrawing from F1 has prompted speculation Robert Kubica could be drafted into the Ferrari.

Valentino Rossi

Perhaps the most ‘out-there’ suggestion of the lot. But Rossi has tested for the team and has shown an interest in competing in four-wheeled motor sports, mainly rallying. His gigantic popularity would create masive interest in the race.

And there isn’t a Moto GP race on that weekend…

Read more: Valentino Rossi tests an F1 Ferrari

David Coulthard

If any of the first three names on this list were to end up in the car it would be a remarkable development. Could Ferrari go for a similarly experienced but less high-profile choice?

It’s worth remembering who the team chose in 1999. Mika Salo had lost his F1 seat before the start of the year but had a decent amount of experience. Looking for a similar driver this year they could hardly do better than pick David Coulthard.

One of the most experienced F1 drivers ever, Coulthard drove with Ferrari engines in 2006. He has contractural obligations to Red Bull and the BBC, but they might be persuaded to reach a compromise. Dietrich Mateschitz’s company still uses Ferrari power in their Toro Rosso cars.

Luca Badoer

Badoer has been a Ferrari tester for aeons. But he didn’t get the call-up last time Ferrari needed to replace an injured driver, so why should he this time, now his last F1 race is almost a decade ago?

Marc Gene

Of the two Ferrari testers, Gene is probably the more likely to appear at Valencia. He has more recent experience as a racing driver than Badoer, having last raced in 2005, and has appeared as a substitute on two separate occasions.

Added to that, he is Spanish, which is likely to go down well with the crowd, particularly if they are having to make do without Alonso.

Counting against Gene are doubts over his race craft: he was dropped by Williams during his last appearance as a substitute in favour of Antonio Pizzonia.

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Liuzzi perhaps fits the Salo mould even better – he has far fewer F1 starts to his name than Coulthard does, but is still young and has been tipped to return to Formula 1 in the future.

He would be the first Italian driver to race a Ferrari since Nicola Larini in 1994, which would inevitably attract a lot of media attention.

Liuzzi’s employment by an active F1 team – even one as lowly as Force India – may count against him. Particularly as they enjoy close technical co-operation with rivals McLaren.

Anthony Davidson

Like Liuzzi, race-fit and recently unemployed, Davidson has only made the occasional appearance in sports car races this year.

Anyone else?

Ferrari tested three young Italian drivers in the off-season: Edoardo Piscopo, Salvatore Cicatelli and Mirko Bortolotti. Although F2 racer Birtolotti impressed it would be highly unusual for Ferrari to elevate a complete rookie to the team at short notice. It has been decades since a driver made their F1 debut in a Ferrari.

Who do you think would be the best choice for Ferrari? Who is most likely to turn up in red at Valencia? Have your say below.

Update: Official: Michael Schumacher to return for Ferrari in the European Grand Prix

More from the forum: Who will replace Massa?

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104 comments on Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica: Who will take Massa’s place at Valencia?

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  1. What about Sébastien Bourdais? Of all the names you could mention, he has the most recent (racing) experience. And he’s without a job, too. If it’s only for, say, 2 or 3 races, he’d be my pick. If it’s for the rest of the season, Ferrari might look elsewhere.

    • Also, he was driving a Ferrari engine and has the same manager as Massa (Nicolas Todt).

      One should not count out Piquet Jnr either if he is fired. Massa might lobby for him getting the job.

      I know everyone wants something fresh, but if Schumacher doesn’t want it and the team don’t go for Gené, it makes way more sense to go for the guys there were racing till the other day than go for other team TDs.

      • adamba said on 29th July 2009, 17:17

        That massa would push for piquet to take his seat is a good point, the pair are compatriots and friends – and piquet isnt fast enough to steal massa’s seat as might kubica.

        A move to the prancing horse to cover massa then in a testing situation next year might restart Piquet jrs career as it did massa’s

  2. David said on 29th July 2009, 15:12

    I know it would be destabilizing…but to me Michael Schumacher option would be the best. I think he could give a great help in set-up of the car, even if it would not be a pleasure for Kimi or Felipe himself if he won the race…
    Alonso and Kubica options don’t seem fair to me, as they are currently running for other teams.
    The other drivers…I don’t think they would be fast enough.

  3. TommyB said on 29th July 2009, 15:13

    Anyone but Kubica please.

    Would love Alonso to get the drive then he can replace Kimi next year. If its just a stand in though I’d like Luizzi

    • Crom said on 29th July 2009, 16:14

      I agree. Kubica in a Ferrari just doesn’t work at all, especially compared to, say, Alonso.

      A Schumacher return would generate interest the likes of which many a season has never seen, especially this one.

      • Damon said on 29th July 2009, 17:32

        Just on the contrary!
        Kubica is perfect for Ferrari. He speaks perfect Italian, and has plenty of Italian fans, who want him in Ferrari.
        Plus, he looks like one of Ferrari’s ex-drivers – Alain Prost.

    • Padre Maldinio said on 29th July 2009, 23:54

      Tommy – this seem to be already Kubicophobia in your case :))
      I see your negative opinion in EVERY topic where KUB is mentioned. Probably you dont have to read article to give opinion :))
      IMHO K UB is the best possible choice for Ferrari. Young but experienced, talented and skilled. He spend half of his life in Italy , he speaks this language fluently. Fingers crossed for him.

  4. Casino Square said on 29th July 2009, 15:14

    You forgot to mention Zsolt Baumgartner. Sources tell me he is the current frontrunner for the drive. I understand that Yuji Ide and Sakon Yammamoto are also under consideration

  5. Tengil said on 29th July 2009, 15:15

    How many of those have a superlicense? I am a bit fuzzy on the requirements for one of those.

  6. The only one you forgot to mention was ‘Our Nige’!!

    Sebastien Bourdais has just left F1, tho probably not on their wish list.

    Giorgio Pantano was GP2 champ and it could be argued he deserves a chance at F1 again.

    Bruno Senna, i mean Keith come on, you missed him on your list to.

    • Damon said on 29th July 2009, 17:34

      Hahaha! Nigel M.?!?

      He couldn’t fit an F1 car already in 1995.
      Remember the McLaren fiasco? :)))

  7. roser said on 29th July 2009, 15:21

    It seems that Alonso said that he is not interested in driving for Ferrari at Valencia, because he doesn’t want to replace any injured driver. Maybe he changes his mind, but I don’t think so.
    Gene won 24 Hors of Le Mans some weeks ago.

  8. Eric said on 29th July 2009, 15:25

    Hey how about Piquet, after his recent comments about Flavio he may be looking for a ride!

  9. Paul Sainsbury said on 29th July 2009, 15:26

    I would love to see Schumacher make a return, just for the possibility of seeing some wheel to wheel action between him and Hamilton. I bet they would both love to have that chance too.

    • Tiomkin said on 29th July 2009, 15:45

      My choice and my reasons too. Who would be the greatest, would Hamilton shine? Or would Shumi show us how it should be done?

      • Adrian said on 29th July 2009, 16:53

        Yes, but the McLaren and the Ferrari aren’t really on an equal form this season so any comparison wouldn’t be valid.

        And that I think might be the biggest reason for schumi not making an appearance assuming he’s physically fit enough to, he would risk damage to his reputation if he came back and didn’t do very well…

  10. I hope for Anthony

  11. Austin said on 29th July 2009, 15:39

    I really like this similar article I found on http://www.f1network.net/main/s85/st147381.htm
    It sarcastically rates Niki Lauda as having a 1% chance over Jacques Villeneuve to replace Massa. I think Villeneuve is past it too for a top drive, but I also think Schumacher is past it too. I don’t think he is fit enough to just jump back into racing again, with a recent neck injury. He would put his and other competitors lives at risk. Frankly he has nothing to prove to get back into a F1 car. I probably think it would be Marc Gene, as he is a Ferrari test driver. Do they not have something in there contract that states they will replace a injured driver? Alonso would be a long shot, I don’t think Flavio would allow it unless he’s given a massive payoff.

  12. Fer no.65 said on 29th July 2009, 15:49

    Who was the last driver to debut at Ferrari?

  13. Chalky said on 29th July 2009, 15:54

    I reckon it’ll be Mark Gene.

    Would like to see Bourdais, but I doubt he’ll get picked.
    Also, DC would be interesting too.

  14. Tols said on 29th July 2009, 15:58

    A safe bet would be DC, but I would love to see Kubica in the car. Or Alonso, but that won’t happen because I feel Renault will compete in Valencia (after being find with 1 Million or so)

  15. Tom said on 29th July 2009, 15:58

    schumacher making a return would be insanely awesome publicity for the sport, but never going to happen. if contract allows it, i’d go with alonso. but realistically i think Gene will be their first choice. i can’t see a team like ferrari employing a driver with no f1 racing experience like senna or rossi.

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