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Ferrari rule out Schumacher return this year
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Ferrari rule out Schumacher return this year
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Aug 2009   |  2:24 pm GMT  |  38 comments

Stefano Domenicali has had a few character building weekends since he took over as boss of Gestione Sportiva, otherwise known as the Ferrari Formula 1 team. But this past weekend with the requirement to make something of 38 year old Luca Badoer, who had not raced for 10 years, must rank high on his list of challenges.
Picture 18

It was an unconvincing performance by Badoer to say the least and afterwards Domenicali left the door ajar for a rethink on the plan that Badoer will drive until Massa returns. He also acknowledged that Ferrari needs a young driver programme and said that the team would announce one soon.

In his press briefing, which I attended, he spoke first in Italian and then in English. In Italian he laid to rest once and for all the notion that Michael Schumacher would drive the car at at later stage in the season, Asked if he could comment on stories that Schumacher was still training hard, published in the German media, he said,
“I’m pleased to hear it, but I can rule out the possibility that he might drive before the end of the season.”

That’s pretty definitive, but it probably won’t stop the German taboids from speculating. From people who hung out with Schumacher this weekend came word that he is training hard and that he’s full of enthusiasm for the idea of driving. But the neck injury is serious enough to rule him out this year.

As for Badoer, Stefano said that “For us the first priority is to understand when Felipe Massa will come back. For sure it is an important race for Luca Badoer next weekend (in Spa). We are expecting a big jump from him and then we will see.”

This opens the door for the possibility of change after Spa. I’m not sure how they will judge success in Spa, certainly not by using Badoer’s performance relative to Kimi Raikkonen as a yardstic; The Finn is outstanding at Spa and yesterday did not rule out the possibility of winning there, “if we have a little but of luck”. Kimi is likely to be even further out of reach for Badoer, so I guess it will be Badoer’s performance relative to other cars in qualifying and his rhythm in the race.

Meanwhile Massa has two important medical checks coming up this week, which will tell us much more about when he might be able to drive again. If these go well the doctors may be able to tell him when he might undergo the small operation he needs to tidy up the front of his skull, after which he will require a further month of recuperation. So it’s going to be touch and go for him to make it before the season finale in Abu Dhabi, in the last week of October.

How to fill the seat is a problem for Domenicali, who will probably have to resign himself to seeing the team lose third place in the constructors’ championship to McLaren, as they have two cars scoring points and are still developing their car, whereas Ferrari has stopped in order to concentrate on building a winning car for 2010. But after a year like they’ve had a top four finish isn’t the end of the world.

Raikkonen’s podium on Sunday gave Ferrari a total of 46 points, 65 less than they had at the same stage last year. McLaren are now just 5 points behind.

Anthony Davidson put his name forward for the Ferrari job yesterday. The former Super Aguri driver would be a neutral choice and plenty of us would love to see it, but even he hasn’t driven a car since last season, so would be pretty ring rusty.

Domenicali admitted that the events of the last weeks have made Ferrari realise that it should have a young driver programme in place, like McLaren, Renault and Red Bull,
“You have to consider that if you put a young driver in, it is for the future. We are thinking for sure to see if we can work on a young driver programme for the future. We have already decided that but unfortunately after what has happened to us, where everything is going in a certain direction and we will announce it very soon.”

Last word to Badoer himself. Asked for his target in Spa he said,
“I’m not a magician, but I know the track well and I will go better there. Then there is Monza, our home Grand Prix. I’ll be ready for a great race there.”

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38 Comments
  1. Pat says:

    This is poor poor management on Ferrari’s part.

    In any business that is worth it’s salt you build in equal levels of redundancy in mission critical areas / components.

    In F1 if an engine goes pop you have a replacement – as we all know they have multiple replacement parts for every piece of the car, wings, wheels, tyre, gearboxes e.t.c. and yet despite their experience of Schumacher’s accident at Silverstone in ’99 they leave theirselves exposed like this, it’s tantamount to having FIAT 500 engines as backup should their normal F1 engine go bang – pathetic!

    Di Montezemolo needs to take the rap for this he likes lap it up when things go right where is he now ?

  2. Aaron Shearer says:

    It’ll be interesting to see Badoer in Spa; I think he’ll get on a bit better than he did in Valencia. Although I doubt he’ll get in the points, probably around 12th or there about.

    I don’t think Gene would be the best replacement either, although he does seem the logical choice for the Scuderia team. They’ll just be on there back-foot until Massa returns from his injury unfortunately. Even then Massa may not be in the best shape when he returns.

  3. martin_tf says:

    Its a big shame, would have been great to see him back. I have a feeling that Badoer may put in a more respectable performance at Spa.

  4. Sarah Jennings says:

    Boudais!

  5. Put another World Champion in the seat. Bring the Villeneuve name back to Ferrari, he will definately not be as slow as Badoer, and will be faster than all the naysayers expect. Noone respects Jacques championship across the pond, probably because he’s Canadian and not a European or Brit. He’s been in the paddocks, if Ferrari were smart they’d put him in for Spa, he’s done very well there. High speed crashes notwithstanding. Please dont waste Spa with Badoer. I’m happy he got to race again since Minardi 1999, but he’s clearly not race-worthy. All the Jacques naysayers must agree he could not be slower than Luca.

  6. Grabyrdy says:

    Gene must wonder what he’s doing there, except collecting the cheque.

    Liuzzi’s the man they need. He’s better than at least half the current F1 grid. What’s he doing this year ?

  7. Jonathan Cheung says:

    Antony Davidson said he will self-recommend himself to Ferrari. I really hope he gets a drive!

  8. Red Kimi says:

    I am all for Davidson or even Sea Bass getting a ride again… at least he drive this years car for 9 races…

    boy I hope Kimi can win at Spa so Ferrari gets at least one win this year… up until the rain last year he was looking at his 4th in a row.. He won in 2004 in a horrible Macca for their only win of the year

  9. Kirk says:

    Forget BAD or Gene – neither is up to the job.

    Get one of these guys in the car for Spa and Monza: Piquet Jr, Bruno Senna, Anthony Davidson, Tonio Liuzzi or Takuma Sato.

    They all know the track, are race fit and are hungry to show what they can do – give THEM a chance, instead of a guy that will waste a GP by treating it as a “test session”.

  10. monktonnik says:

    Is it time to acknowledge that the ban on in season testing is a bad thing?

    I wholly agree with cutting costs and ensuring a sustainable future for F1. To be truly sutainable however, they need a pool of young talent coming through and reserve drivers with the relevant experience and mileage to be able to get in the car and drive. I was shocked at the performance of Badoer, and I don’t think that either Grosjean or Alguersuari did a great job either.

    To be honest, unless it is definite that MSC wont be fit, they would be mad to rule him out. They need him more than ever.

  11. jk says:

    Has there been any further rumors on using Piquet instead?
    Has Liuzzi done many miles this year, he would be an interesting random gamble…

  12. Racing not politics says:

    I’d like to see Davidson get a drive. He has to be a better choice than Badoer or Gene

    Presumably he’s kept himself fit James?

    1. James Allen says:

      …As a butcher’s dog

    2. **Paul** says:

      I’d love to see AD get a shot too. Likewise I’d love to see what Piquet can really do when given a decent car with some support from the team, he could totally change the stereotypical negative view the press have on dropped drivers when perhaps not knowing all the facts.

  13. Martyn B says:

    Putting 2 + 2 and getting 7, but there is another big name that has driven a Ferrari F1, would give them all the press coverage that Schu would have got and, even if he put in a Badoer-like performance, would get the fans drooling.

    Rossi.

    I know he’s racing in Moto GP, but he is 50 points ahead of 2nd place. Bourdais managed to squeeze in Le Mans between GPs (ok bad example). Let Badoer do the Spa and Rossi could do the one after. Now where is the GP after next…

    Unlikley I know realistically but I can dream.

    1. Rory H says:

      that’s a fantastic idea!

      the Italian F1 GP is 13th September.

      the San Marino MotoGP is 6th September and there is not another race until 4th October in Portugal, therefore Valentino would be on the couch on the weekend 11-13th September…

      James, maybe you could suggest it to Mr Domenicali on behalf of us, the fans of his team?!

    2. Racing not politics says:

      what a great suggestion – ticks loads of boxes being both Italian and an enormous superstar and crossing over from 2 wheels.

  14. Jonathan says:

    I’m also ready and willing to race in Monza… and I think my chances of being in the seat are about as high as Luca’s.

      1. Me too… …though I have to say that with a CV high point of seventh out of seven of a karting competition in January that the Scuderia’s management have almost certainly never heard of before, this only means both our chances are negligible.

  15. Olivier says:

    … what about Sebastien Bourdais? He drove a Ferrari @ Torro Rosso not such a long time ago?

  16. CoolGav says:

    Badoer’s performance at Valencia shows that every team needs to have a capable driver in reserve. And every team needs to have some input into the careers of younger drivers, so that when an opportunity arises, they can get to work immeadiatly.

    I’m pleased to hear that Davidson has thown his hat into the ring. Ant has done a lot of F1 testing and racing, so looks to be the right kind of driver to fill the role – hence continuing his Honda relationship through to Brawn.

    I also wonder how much the whole Schumacher episode affected Badoers preperation. And if it’s the case that drivers need a bit more time to get used to a 2009 race weekend, then Badoer shoudln’t be replaced immeadiatly, but let Ant (or Gene, Piquet, di Grassi etc) come and shaddow him. A driver needs to know his race team, needs to be confident in race procedures (sessions, grids, pitstops etc).

  17. Rpaco says:

    Good old Ant, I hope he gets a shot.
    What a pity the rules cannot allow driver testing as opposed to car testing. There could perhaps be no telemetry allowed, just a stopwatch and a damp cloth.

    1. tomo says:

      That is a very good suggestion. I’m sure stewards could attend these “driver test” session to ensure no shennanigans took place.

      Rpaco for FIA Presidency!

      1. James Allen says:

        …or F1 commissioner

  18. John says:

    James,

    how can you say that Anthony Davidson is a neutral choice? Isn’t he on Brawn’s payroll as a reserve driver?

    Surely Ferrari would never even consider drafting a driver that is contracted to a current competitor.

    1. Pat says:

      I think Ferrari could well do with some of the insider knowledge Ant has on the Brawn car – It’s Ross who’ll not want it to happen :)

  19. Alexx says:

    James, great blog!

    what about Ferarri getting Valentino Rossi in the car for Monza in place of Badoer!

    Keep up the writing, and thanks for giving us fans an inside view into F1.

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s got a Moto GP championship to clinch. Anyway, he wouldn’t be able to do anything without testing. For a reasonable outcome it really needs to be an active F1 driver

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        I suppose it depends on the outcome they consider reasonable. Given that they’ve already ceased development work on this year’s car, it seems to me that they can try to scrape up points with a recently ex-driver (Bourdais, Piquet, etc., a reach for anyone, given the lack of testing) scare up new talent (may as well start now with that young driver program, maybe pull someone from F2?)

        Or, they can just make the whole thing a publicity exercise by running different drivers in each of the remaining races. If not Rossi, someone else from MotoGP or WSBK. Run one of the Mansell brothers, or Marco Andretti, for name recognition.

        I hope Badoer improves enough to avoid that kind of publicity stunt. However they approach it, though, the Old Man will speed up the spinning he’s already doing in his grave.

  20. onyx says:

    Davidson!Good grief-another journeyman!What has he ever done in F1 to merit having another go.Why do people go on about these guys that have either had their chance or will patently never make it!

    1. rpaco says:

      Well Ant has never had a chance in a half decent car. (Not that the Ferrari is decent, but getting there)

  21. Dario says:

    No offense, but that makes even less sense than having Badoer driving the prancing horse.
    When was Jacques last in an F1 car???

  22. Dario says:

    Bring on Senna…

  23. GP says:

    Alonso is the answer! At Monza Ferrari will announce they have signed Alonso but, coup de théatre!, he immediately takes over the Massa/Badoer car. And proceeds to win the race!!! Italy explodes!!

    Flav’s gonna make a deal with Mario Thiessen and put Kubeezza in the Renault.

    Piquet Jr. will replace Kubeezza at Bmw-Sauber since daddy is buying the team.

    Anthing else you wanna know, James? ;-)

  24. craig says:

    seeing how everyone is just throwing names out there. i’m gonna be biased and suggest a fellow countryman….. brendon hartley

  25. Pat says:

    I’d like to see Bourdais in the car and here’s why….

    I think it’s the least Ferrari can do for Bourdais after using him and STR as engine fodder to see just how far the Ferrari engine will go without going bang.

    He’s got very recent F1 race experience.
    He knows the tracks.
    He’s available.
    He knows how to win.

    I know all the arguments about Ex Champ car drivers not being able to make the grade but I have this niggling doubt that Bourdais is better than he was able to show in the STR.

    4 times Champ/Cart whatever you want to call it Champion, International F3000 Champion, F3 Champion (French)

    2nd in Le Mans twice last one as recently as June ’09

    Apart from F1, his pedigree is pretty good really.

    Ferrari have nothing to lose by using him and could well gain some useful points.

  26. Zeloveur says:

    Hi James,
    There are a few rumors regarding Bourdais, as there is an obvious link with ferrari via Nicolas Todt his manager (as well as Massa’s). He also sat “on” a Ferrari engine for two years… He did well at Spa last year (probably his best race in F1). What is your view on this…?

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