Ferrari super-sub Luca Badoer crawled in last today for the second race in a row at the Belgian Grand Prix, 102 seconds behind his team mate and the winner of the race, Kimi Raikkonen. But afterwards he spoke of his plans for the next race at Monza, where he believes he will put in a truly competitive showing.
It was a day when the importance of having both cars scoring points was underlined again. Ferrari was able to open up a 12 point lead over McLaren in their intense fight for third place in the championship. This battle is set to go right down to the final race in Abu Dhabi and with the Ferrari proving competitive enough for Raikkonen to score 24 points in the last three races, the need to have a second car backing him up is obvious.
“This weekend generally was positive and I have much more experience than in Valencia,” said Badoer. “Now I feel like I have always been racing in F1”
“With this race now, I’m ready. I feel comfortable, I have a good feeling for the car and I think Monza will be a good result.
Badoer went with a one-stop strategy today, which meant that the opening dozen laps or so would necessarily be quite slow. But thereafter the other one-stoppers got quickly into the groove, lapping in the 1m 48s and 1m 49s. Badoer was not able to match that pace, setting only five sub 1m 50 laps in the entire race, all of which were 1m 49s. As a comparison the next slowest man, Kazuki Nakajima, did 20 laps in the sub 1m 50s of which half were in the low 1m 48s.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali refused to be drawn on whether Badoer’s future is now behind him, saying that much would depend on the medical checks on Felipe Massa tomorrow in Florida. If they show that he can make a comeback this season then the picture with regard to Fisichella is complicated, as Force India are understood to be reluctant to demote Tonio Liuzzi back to test driver after a few outings.
“The most important thing is to consider what is best for our side,” said Domenicali. “With regard to what we will do for the next races, we will tell you in three days. For sure Ferrari does not want to be last in the race. But as we said we need to put on the table all the considerations and then as soon as we have taken the decision we will keep you informed. We want to be strong as a team, as a driver and as a brand.”
Even Ferrari’s closest friends would say that the decision to run Badoer was a poor one and although he would probably put up his strongest showing to date at Monza, he clearly isn’t capable of running near the front, where a race winning Ferrari should be in front of the tifosi. It was an emotional decision to put him there, of the kind we haven’t seen from the team since the early 1990s, but it now needs a pragmatic decision to replace him with the best driver available, which is clearly Fisichella.
Of Fisichella’s performance this weekend, the Ferrari boss said, “He was performing fantastically and was pushing Kimi. He is a driver who seems to be very fast.”