A rather crestfallen Luca Badoer has blamed the media for causing him to lose his Ferrari drive at Monza this weekend.
Badoer was parachuted into the drive after first Felipe Massa was injured in Budapest and then Michael Schumacher, the first choice replacement, failed medical tests on a neck injury.
Not having driven in a Grand Prix for 10 years and with no miles under his belt in the car this year, Badoer inevitably struggled, finding himself last of the qualifiers and of the finishers in both the European and Belgian Grands Prix.
He had convinced himself that he would be fully up to speed at Monza, but he was not given the chance and he feels that the negative media coverage is the cause, not his poor performances,
“Those who write don’t understand how much harm they can cause. The media played a fundamental role in the decision to replace me,” he said.
This is awkward for Ferrari. The brand is so strong, post-Schumcher, it must never be exposed to ridicule and Badoer put that at some risk.
He is the most experienced driver never to score a point in F1, so clearly that needed putting right and with a car capable of podiums in the last four races, Badoer should have got off the mark. Badoer has been a loyal servant of the team over 10 years, always as a backroom boy and this was his chance for a moment in the spotlight. But F1 is an unforgiving business, Ferrari tried to be loyal and create a nice story, but it backfired on them and on Badoer. It is worse for both sides than if he had never had the chance to race a Ferrari as this embarrassing episode puts a shadow over the tremendous work he had done beside the scenes during the all-conquering Schumacher years.
Ferrari didn’t like it that some wag came up with “Look-how bad-you are” as a nickname for their struggling reserve. But to blame the media for losing the job is ludicrous. Yes, some of them were a little unkind, but he was miles off what a Ferrari driver should be doing, especially in the teeth of a battle with McLaren for the ‘salvaging some honour’ third position in the constructors’ championship. But most of us just reported facts and the facts are what did for him.
“I realised my dream, ” said Badoer. “I will always be able to tell my kids I raced two races for Ferrari, Maranello had faith in me. I only have one regret — from the third grand prix I would have done better.
“There was no agreement on how many races I would do. I thought I had time to improve. And these rules stop a reserve driver from testing and make him a victim – it happens only in Formula One.”
It didn’t help Badoer that at the same time two rookies were also finding their feet in F1, Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean. Both have some way to go, but were only a few tenths off their team mates’ pace, not whole seconds.
I feel sorry for Badoer in many ways, he should never have been asked and should not have accepted, but he couldn’t refuse and anyone with a heart can understand that. But to blame the media for his failure is the ultimate in self-deception.