Episode two of one of Formula 1′s most bizarre soap operas takes place this weekend as Luca Badoer attempts to show the bosses at Ferrari that he has the right stuff to remain a Ferrari race driver for the rest of the season, or until Felipe Massa is fit to return.
Today he finished 20th and last again, some two seconds off the pace and this time Ferrari didn’t wrap him up in cotton wool to the same extent as in Valencia when it came to writing their press release. This is the opening sentence;
“Once again, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro ran their day on two fronts. On the one hand, there was Kimi Raikkonen setting the third fastest time of the day, on the other, Luca Badoer was again at the tail end of the field.”
Raikkonen looks really quick this weekend and a study of the long run times shows that the car is a match for anything except the Red Bulls.
A little later on in the press release, there is a quote from Stefano Domenicali which says “Furthermore, we have seen how close it is, with nineteen drivers all within just over one second of one another.” You don’t need to be Einstein to read between the lines there.
They go on to say that Luca ‘gained experience’ and ‘made a step forward’ today. Domenicali sounds like my old physics teacher at school when he writes, “We expect to see him continue to improve throughout the weekend.”
Looking at Badoer’s long run performance, he did a six lap run with times in the mid to low 1m 50s and then another run which started with two laps in the 1m 49s and then 1m 50s.
In comparison you look at Romain Grosjean, who is also in his second race weekend to see what a top GP2 driver can do in an F1 car with no testing. Grosjean set the fifth fastest time of the day in 1m 47.3 and his long runs are mainly in the high 1m 48s.
As I posted yesterday, I don’t think that Ferrari will stick a young driver in the car for Monza and beyond for two reasons; they need to be sure that the second driver will score points and they believe that it would blow a young driver’s mind to suddenly find themselves racing a Ferrari at Monza.
However there was a lovely cameo in the pits this morning, spotted by my old mate Ted Kravitz, where Jules Bianchi was steered by his manager Nicholas Todt into the Ferrari garage during practice and was seen talking to engineers. He was ushered out by Ferrari press officer Luca Colajanni, who was concerned about how the scene would be interpreted.
Bianchi’s interest is the young driver programme and it seems that Ferrari may well announce it in Monza, with three drivers. I think Bianchi may be one, Mirko Bortolotti another and I’m not sure who the third might be yet. It is noticeable that there are a lot of young drivers and their managers being introduced around the paddock this weekend.