Michael Schumacher will attend this weekend’s European Grand Prix at Valencia as part of the Ferrari team.
The 40 year old was hoping to race but failed a medical check on his neck. He will be there to support the team and particularly Luca Badoer, with whom Schumacher has had a long friendship. Badoer is substituting for the injured Felipe Massa until further notice.
Badoer drove the F60 car at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track this week as part of a promotional filming event. He wasn’t allowed to do more than 100 kilometres in a day and had to use extra hard tyres, so the test was of little value to him. He worked with Massa’s long time engineer, the irrepressible Rob Smedley, who is likely to engineer him at the races.
With Romain Grosjean also racing for the first time in a Grand Prix without any testing, one hopes that the teams will address the in-season testing ban rules to allow for some flexibility. The last I heard, during Budapest weekend, the ban was set to become even more severe next year, with less pre season testing and further restrictions on straight line aerodynamic tests.
As for this weekend, Badoer will be racing for the first time in 10 years and describes the weekend ahead as “a very tough challenge.”
“It will effectively be a test session for me, but I will be trying my best to secure a good result. I have to say, my first thoughts when I take to the track will be for Felipe, because I got a real fright when I saw his accident. I am delighted that he is making a good recovery and I hope he will be back racing as soon as possible.
“I have to add that I am also thinking of Michael, because having trained with him over the last few weeks, I know how much he wanted to make this comeback and how much effort he was putting into his preparation. Even though his decision has provided me with this great opportunity to race for the Scuderia, I feel sorry for him.”
According to Ferrari’s website the car will feature some further updates this weekend, “As a result of aero work and testing carried out prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix, the car will roll out with modifications to the front and rear wings and the diffuser.”
Massa said on Sunday night that he was targeting the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 18 for his comeback, which would him missing just five races. But Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, who visited his driver in Brazil over the weekend, said that there was no rush for him to come back,
“Felipe is on great form and his recovery is going very well…but we need to have patience, there’s no hurry,” he said.