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?

  1. ccolanto said on 29th July 2009, 18:12

    Sky news can’t always be trusted,

    but Autosport has caught wing and is being cautious:
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/77418

  2. Austin said on 29th July 2009, 18:12

    From Schumacher’s website

    “The most important thing first: thanks God, all news concerning Felipe are positive. I wish him all the best again.

    I was meeting this afternoon with Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe. Though it is true that the chapter Formula 1 has been closed for me since long and completely, it is also true that for loyalty reasons to the team I cannot ignore that unfortunate situation. But as the competitor I am I also very much look forward to facing this challenge.”

  3. dan said on 29th July 2009, 18:13

    oh shumi got seat!!

  4. Arun,India said on 29th July 2009, 18:14

    I know schumi is back……Oh oh…..He is going to show every how a F1 car has to be raced….Go schumi GO….

  5. Rob R. said on 29th July 2009, 18:15

    You know, Nigel Mansell never officially retired.

  6. Crazy Horse said on 29th July 2009, 18:15

    There is once again nothing as surreal as reality in these weird times. I would never have thought this possible, or even worthwhile from a professional driving standard. Then again, Armstrong did pretty well in this year’s Tour. Despite the knowledge of all the insane marketing hype to come, i actually am already excited to think about Valencia and more.

  7. This guy have balls… he will get back in Valência, a track that he do not know.

    Kimi under a huge pressure to delivery now…

  8. Welcome back Schumi!! WELCOME BACK..

  9. Carl 27 said on 29th July 2009, 18:19

    I’ve just read in a spanish website (www.elmundo.es) that Schumacher has announced in his website that he will be driving the Ferrari in Valencia. Seems like he is the man for the job afterall.

  10. Pedro Andrade said on 29th July 2009, 18:22

    Despite this already being a possibility, and me being an anti-Schumacher for many years, I can only say:

    Holy cow! :D

    I’ve got vacations planned for the weekend of the Valencia GP, I’m wondering if I should postpone it.

  11. Mav said on 29th July 2009, 18:23

    I think it’s a brave move and a good one, too.
    It will be exciting to see him driving the F60 with no experience in this car and especially the comparison Schumacher – Raikkonen will be interesting.
    I bet I know already who’ll drive most laps on Friday in Valencia ;-)

  12. Rahzam said on 29th July 2009, 18:26

    oh My God. Schumi in action. can’t wait to see the show.

  13. Now have we got a race on!
    shame weve got to wait 4 weeks!

  14. Sri said on 29th July 2009, 18:31

    Forza Ferrari!

    The great has come back once more… Excellent… Massa is doing fine, and is reported to recover real quick… Excellent!!!

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