Luca Badoer could be the first Italian to race for Ferrari at Monza since 1992

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Luca Badoer: Ferrari's substitute for a substitute
Luca Badoer: Ferrari's substitute for a substitute

Although it’s a disappointment that Michael Schumacher will not return to F1 in the European Grand Prix, Ferrari’s second choice of replacement – Luca Badoer – is an interesting one.

Not everyone’s happy about it, though – Spanish motorsport federation president Carlos Gracia has criticised Ferrari’s decision to pick Badoer over their other test driver, Spaniard Marc Gene, who has more recent F1 experience:

It is one of the most absurd things that the people in charge of Ferrari have ever decided. I consider Gene to be better prepared and would have though that winning the Le Mans 24 Hours in June – the first time that a Spanish driver has shown himself capable of racing for victory in the race – would have been an important factor for Ferrari.
Carlos Gracia

Gracia is probably worried about the consequences for the European Grand Prix at Valencia next week: ticket sales were already poor and the suspension of Fernando Alonso’s team won’t have helped. Now the return of Schumacher has turned out to be a false dawn and many of the thousands who rushed to buy tickets for the race in the past week may now cancel. Had Ferrari chosen Gene that might have been different.

Luca di Montezemolo described his decision to put Badoer in the car as a thank-you for Badoer’s 11 years as a Ferrari test driver – but did not indicate whether he would only race as a one-off:

We have therefore decided to give Luca Badoer the chance to race for the Scuderia after he has put in so many years of hard work as a test driver.
Luca di Montezemolo

Badoer was passed over for a substitute role in similar circumstances in 1999 when Schumacher was injured.

Badoer and the records

If he remains in the car for further races, with Felipe Massa unlikely to return for some time, he might get the chance to do something very special: become the first Italian to race for Ferrari at Monza since Ivan Capelli in 1992.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is on September 13th. The last Italian to race for Ferrari at an Italian round of the world championship was Nicola Larini at Imola in 1994.

There are some other interesting records attached to Badoer. He is currently the driver to have competed in the most races without scoring a point. He started 49 events between 1993 and 1999. Brett Lunger is second with no points from 34 starts.

He made his debut in the hopeless Ferrari-engined Lola of 1993. The car was entered by the Scuderia Italia team, who packed up before the end of the season. Badoer did manage to drag the car to seventh at Imola in 1993 – but there were no points for seventh back then.

His tour of Italy’s least successful F1 teams continued with Minardi (1995) and Forti (1996). He returned to Minardi in 1999, dovetailing his race programme with test duties for Ferrari. Badoer is still best-remembered for bursting into tears after his Minardi broke down while he lay fourth in the 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

When Badoer, 38, returns to racing at Valencia it will be nine years, nine months and 24 days since his last Grand Prix at Suzuka in 1999. That will be the second longest ever gap between consecutive appearances for an F1 driver, beaten only by Jan Lammers. The Dutchman returned after an absence of ten years and three months when he raced for March at Suzuka in 1992.

Having not competed for so long there will inevitably be doubts over how well Badoer will perform. How do you think he will get on?

Luca Badoer driving for Ferrari

44 comments on “Luca Badoer could be the first Italian to race for Ferrari at Monza since 1992”

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  1. Anybody know what that piece of bodywork is for, on the top of the driver’s right hand sidepod?
    is it some derivitive of last years car for testing this years regs?

  2. Prisoner Monkeys
    12th August 2009, 14:09

    Not everyone’s happy about it, though – Spanish motorsport federation president Carlos Gracia has criticised Ferrari’s decision to pick Badoer over their other test driver, Spaniard Marc Gene, who has more recent F1 experience

    If Ferrari’s other test driver was from anywhere other than Spain, the Spaniards wouldn’t care about it. It’s obvious they’re desperate to see one of their own in a Maranello, as if this will magically grant them a World Championship.

    1. Or it might stop people trying to get rid of their tickets. This came up on the forum today:

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        13th August 2009, 3:00

        Gene alone doesn’t have the pulling power of Schmacher. If he was running in Badoer’s place, you can bet there would be tabloid stories saying Ferrari is testing a Spanish driver to see if they’re any good for next year. That is what would prevent tickets from being re-sold, not the presence of Gene.

  3. I think it’s a good call from Ferrari. The fact that he’s over the hill is likely to be the point. If they hired somebody better for as many as seven races and he started picking up loads of points, Ferrari wouls find themselves in a difficult situation with 3 or 4 drivers fighting for 2 spots. They can’t drop Alonso (assuming he’s got or is about to get a contract) and dropping Massa after he’s nearly died would look callous in the extreme. So I think they’ve specifically chosen someone who won’t be very good to avoid this situation. And what better than the man with the record for most GP starts without a win?

    Having said that, I hope he gets a point. If he finishes 8th, he’ll feel like he’s won the World Championship, so good luck to him.

  4. I’m sure he is a nice guy. Great tester, apparently, for keeping his career going for so long. I wish him well, But…..don’t expect too much in race conditions.

  5. Badoer deserves points full stop…he knows the car better then gene personally i think ferrari picked him cos in 2000 when they picked salo over him this is a reward for badoer and im sure if he manages 8th hell be exstatic.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys
    13th August 2009, 2:57

    Let’s open the betting pool now: how many times will Jonathan Legard mention Badoer without mentioning Schumacher in the same sentence?

  7. i’m glad to hear that. way to go luca badoer. you deserved to get that chance. show them you can do it. :)

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