Luca Badoer could be the first Italian to race for Ferrari at Monza since 1992

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Luca Badoer: Ferrari's substitute for a substitute
Luca Badoer: Ferrari's substitute for a substitute

Although it’s a disappointment that Michael Schumacher will not return to F1 in the European Grand Prix, Ferrari’s second choice of replacement – Luca Badoer – is an interesting one.

Not everyone’s happy about it, though – Spanish motorsport federation president Carlos Gracia has criticised Ferrari’s decision to pick Badoer over their other test driver, Spaniard Marc Gene, who has more recent F1 experience:

It is one of the most absurd things that the people in charge of Ferrari have ever decided. I consider Gene to be better prepared and would have though that winning the Le Mans 24 Hours in June – the first time that a Spanish driver has shown himself capable of racing for victory in the race – would have been an important factor for Ferrari.
Carlos Gracia

Gracia is probably worried about the consequences for the European Grand Prix at Valencia next week: ticket sales were already poor and the suspension of Fernando Alonso’s team won’t have helped. Now the return of Schumacher has turned out to be a false dawn and many of the thousands who rushed to buy tickets for the race in the past week may now cancel. Had Ferrari chosen Gene that might have been different.

Luca di Montezemolo described his decision to put Badoer in the car as a thank-you for Badoer’s 11 years as a Ferrari test driver – but did not indicate whether he would only race as a one-off:

We have therefore decided to give Luca Badoer the chance to race for the Scuderia after he has put in so many years of hard work as a test driver.
Luca di Montezemolo

Badoer was passed over for a substitute role in similar circumstances in 1999 when Schumacher was injured.

Badoer and the records

If he remains in the car for further races, with Felipe Massa unlikely to return for some time, he might get the chance to do something very special: become the first Italian to race for Ferrari at Monza since Ivan Capelli in 1992.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is on September 13th. The last Italian to race for Ferrari at an Italian round of the world championship was Nicola Larini at Imola in 1994.

There are some other interesting records attached to Badoer. He is currently the driver to have competed in the most races without scoring a point. He started 49 events between 1993 and 1999. Brett Lunger is second with no points from 34 starts.

He made his debut in the hopeless Ferrari-engined Lola of 1993. The car was entered by the Scuderia Italia team, who packed up before the end of the season. Badoer did manage to drag the car to seventh at Imola in 1993 – but there were no points for seventh back then.

His tour of Italy’s least successful F1 teams continued with Minardi (1995) and Forti (1996). He returned to Minardi in 1999, dovetailing his race programme with test duties for Ferrari. Badoer is still best-remembered for bursting into tears after his Minardi broke down while he lay fourth in the 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

When Badoer, 38, returns to racing at Valencia it will be nine years, nine months and 24 days since his last Grand Prix at Suzuka in 1999. That will be the second longest ever gap between consecutive appearances for an F1 driver, beaten only by Jan Lammers. The Dutchman returned after an absence of ten years and three months when he raced for March at Suzuka in 1992.

Having not competed for so long there will inevitably be doubts over how well Badoer will perform. How do you think he will get on?

Luca Badoer driving for Ferrari

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Luca Badoer could be the first Italian to race for Ferrari at Monza since 1992”

  1. Another great post, Keith, but I think you are attributing the first quote to the wrong person. Luca di Montezemolo?

    1. Yeah, I noticed that too. I thought Luca was being a bit hard on himself ;)

    2. Copy/paste FAIL :-(

      1. Hi Keith, would you be so kind as to do an article on possible alternatives to Badoer like Villeneuve, Alonso, Kubica, Senna etc? It would be interesting to discuss.

  2. Funny that Ferrari replaced an injured driver, with an injured driver :)

  3. Max should resign now!!!
    12th August 2009, 6:36

    I wonder if the guy will burst into tears in case he scores a point. Good luck to him from a McLaren fan!

  4. Max should resign now!!!
    12th August 2009, 6:40

    I found the video of him crying! Man I feel sorry for him…

    1. Max should resign now!!!
      12th August 2009, 6:41

      Oh I forgot start watching from minute 6.

    2. Hakkinen cried when he had a brain fade and spun. Massa cried after he finished Brazil last year. I’m sure there are other examples. It just shows how much of themselves these drivers put into their racing.

      1. even shoemaker cried after being beaten by hakkinen.

      2. Max should resign now!!!
        12th August 2009, 7:42

        yes I know that and I saw Mika crying and all but imagine for this guy losing his only chance (I’m sure he was thinking that at the moment)of scoring his first few points after years of struggle, and well it shows in the video.
        I wasn’t trying to make fun of the guy in any way, I’m actually happy he will have a few more shots of achieving this.

  5. Can any one answer whether he will get a test drive on 2007 car.I think Ferrari should have chosen GENE as he is Spanish & have good record then Luca for Europe.
    Then Luca could have return in Italy.

    Dark days for Ferrari.
    1ST MASSA had an accident who was leading the championship for them up to Hungary.2nd MICHAEL failed the fitness test.3rd KIMI is having fun in Rally.4TH they have to ride with some one who haven’t race for 10 years.


  6. Be interesting what Badoer can do… I doubt he will make that much of an impression towards the front but you never know! Ferrari seem to have a more competitive car now…

  7. Is the penalty against Renault stopping Alonso being able to drive for another team, or does it affect the whole of the Renault team?
    Since Ferrari are determined not to use their own test-drivers (which makes you wonder why they have them at all), it would make more sense to ‘borrow’ a competitive Alonso than use a possibly useless Badoer…
    On the other hand, its good to see an Italian driver in a Ferrari for once :-)
    I cannot say I am all that surprised that Old Schuey cannot get fit enough – its better he admits it now, rather than half-way through Qualifying….

  8. I think that Badoer has the chance to surprise. The last time they took an Italian in as a replacement (Nicola Larini in 1994) it took him two races to drive the car to a second place finish in Imola. And that after 68 races without a point…
    However, this will be Badoer’s only chance, he’ll better make the best of it. For now, his seat is only certain for one race. If he proves to be useless at Valencia, Gene will be in the car by Spa.

  9. Bigbadderboom
    12th August 2009, 8:50

    You would think that Vettel and Webber would be happier with Badoer, I think he is far less likely to take points off the 2 Red Bull drivers. And I’m not sure that a race track with the fastest cars in the world is the place to reward a driver (because he is loyal?) who may be over the hill. Whats wrong with a gold rolex and a card signed by all the team LOL :).

  10. Okay so he hasn’t raced in F1 for nearly 10 years. But it’s not like he hasn’t driven an F1 car in the interim. And it’s not like when he’s been on track testing that there haven’t been other drivers on track at the same time.

    And sure he had a rubbish record in F1 when he was racing, but let’s remember the teams he was driving for.

    Good luck to him I say. (Just please stay out of Jenson’s way!!)

    1. Yep. From Wikipedia:

      He covers thousands of kilometres at the Mugello and Fiorano test circuits each year and it is likely that Badoer has driven more kilometres in a Ferrari F1 car than any other Italian in history.

      No small feat that. I’m sure he’s in reasonable racing trim, and should be able to set competitive lap times pretty quickly. If he can stay in clean air, I have no doubt he can score well in the points. His racecraft on the other hand, may have deteriorated.

      1. And probably much more than any driver currently racing.

      2. Will he be able to get clean air, though? The current qualifying system is known to highly reward confidence and racecraft — even Webber performed sub-par earlier this year, after his biking injury. And look at Piquet and Nakajima’s qualifying records vis-a-vis their teammates.

        I’d say we’ll see a Button-at-Silverstone performance — stuck behind slower cars that are not slow enough to overtake. Valencia is, after all, Monaco without the glamour.

  11. I think that Drivers get put through a lot so if they cannot do it they cannot do it can they.

  12. I remember that Martin Brundle fairly recently said that Badoer “couldn’t drive a nail through a plank of wood”. Says it all, really.

    1. a bit harsh that quote…

    2. Lauda said something similar recently (quoted on and translate freely from German): “This is the biggest catastrophe for Ferrari, since there isn’t any drivers market any more. Instead of Badoer, I could drive just as well …. … he’s just not good enough.”

  13. I may have just missed it but was Badoer’s last F1 race in 1999 his last actual car race or has he been competing in other series as well as testing like Gene?

    1. I’m pretty sure he’s not been in any major races since then, yes.

  14. An Italian in a Ferrari, (said with a heavy Italian Accent) marvelous…

    i have a feeling he will do well enough considering he hasn’t raced in a while. but true racers never loose their edge if he’s got the determination then he will be able to put some points.

    in any case, good luck to him…

  15. I think they made the right decision picking Badoer over Gene, but I’m still a little bit surprised they picked either of them, I have always had the impression Ferrari are reluctant to draft in their test drivers as replacements. This is only based one one occurrence previously that i can think of, but where i would be confident that Mclaren would put in delaRosa, or Williams would put in Hulkenberg, or any other team for that matter would put in their test driver first choice, Ferrari gives the impression they would rather get someone other than their test driver for some reason.

    Obviously Schumacher would have been brilliant for publicity, and you dont turn down the opportunity to put in a 7 time champion in your car, but he was never 100% guaranteed with the neck injury being mentioned from the beginning and even when he pulled out I didnt assume Badoer.

    All that said, I’m quite pleased he is getting his chance – he’s been with the team for ever, and i think deserves the shot over Gene for that reason. Gene isnt a bad driver, but I wouldnt rank him infinitely higher than Badoer – when he and Pizzonia subbed for Ralf in 2004 it was Pizzonia that I felt did the better job, so for longevity reasons I think Badoer is the right choice.

    I do hope he gets points, I remember feeling ever so sorry for him at Nurburgring in 1999 when he retired from that fourth place (not as distraught as I was when Ralf got a puncture whilst in the lead of that same race only a handful of laps from the end and ruined what could have been his first win though!) – would have been a fantastic result! I think the Ferrari is capable of points as well in Valencia – so fingers crossed!!

    I dont think the long absence will be a problem, seeing as he does stupid amounts of miles testing – he is unlikely to be slow, its just getting back into the swing of actual F1 racing again.

  16. Luca is the senior test driver he should get the privilege first. I don’t know why Garcia keeps doing this kind of stuff.

  17. good luck for luca badoer. he deserved it even though he may looked like a bad driver, but remember that he drive crap car like minardi,lola and forti. He was the F3000 CHAMPION.

  18. Bit rich the comment from Martin Brundle. He can talk a good race but he was never in the top 20 of 22 drivers when he was on track. No wins, no poles, no fastest laps and he also was in some reasonable cars in F1 and managed a mighty average of less than 1 point per race(98 points in 160 races)

    1. Yes I agree with you Rampante…Martin was never top shelf

  19. I agree with you, Rampante, Brundle (if it’s true what reported) hasn’t the right to be so harsh considering his career, and even a world champ couldn’t say that of Badoer. All we know that a driver career in F1 depends on 20% from talent and 80% from many things as money and the luck of having a fast car.. now sadly is too late to judge the real value of Badoer, 10 years ago he was at least at the same level of the others drivers.. the point is that i still cannot understand why ferrari in ’99 hired Salo and not him to substitute Michael.. Everyway good luck to Luca, i hope he’ll finally score some point!

  20. How many miles will Badoer have had because of the test restrictions ?
    Around five or so years ago Badoer was quoted saying that he was no longer interested in being a formula 1 driver and that he was happy with his test role , it might have been before Massa got the seat but i don’t remember the exact time , i hope the desire to race is the reason ferrari have chosen him over gene given that the spaniard would have had a chance to please his home crowd .
    i for one wish Luca the best .

  21. Anybody know what that piece of bodywork is for, on the top of the driver’s right hand sidepod?
    is it some derivitive of last years car for testing this years regs?

  22. Prisoner Monkeys
    12th August 2009, 14:09

    Not everyone’s happy about it, though – Spanish motorsport federation president Carlos Gracia has criticised Ferrari’s decision to pick Badoer over their other test driver, Spaniard Marc Gene, who has more recent F1 experience

    If Ferrari’s other test driver was from anywhere other than Spain, the Spaniards wouldn’t care about it. It’s obvious they’re desperate to see one of their own in a Maranello, as if this will magically grant them a World Championship.

    1. Or it might stop people trying to get rid of their tickets. This came up on the forum today:

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        13th August 2009, 3:00

        Gene alone doesn’t have the pulling power of Schmacher. If he was running in Badoer’s place, you can bet there would be tabloid stories saying Ferrari is testing a Spanish driver to see if they’re any good for next year. That is what would prevent tickets from being re-sold, not the presence of Gene.

  23. I think it’s a good call from Ferrari. The fact that he’s over the hill is likely to be the point. If they hired somebody better for as many as seven races and he started picking up loads of points, Ferrari wouls find themselves in a difficult situation with 3 or 4 drivers fighting for 2 spots. They can’t drop Alonso (assuming he’s got or is about to get a contract) and dropping Massa after he’s nearly died would look callous in the extreme. So I think they’ve specifically chosen someone who won’t be very good to avoid this situation. And what better than the man with the record for most GP starts without a win?

    Having said that, I hope he gets a point. If he finishes 8th, he’ll feel like he’s won the World Championship, so good luck to him.

  24. I’m sure he is a nice guy. Great tester, apparently, for keeping his career going for so long. I wish him well, But…..don’t expect too much in race conditions.

  25. Badoer deserves points full stop…he knows the car better then gene personally i think ferrari picked him cos in 2000 when they picked salo over him this is a reward for badoer and im sure if he manages 8th hell be exstatic.

  26. Prisoner Monkeys
    13th August 2009, 2:57

    Let’s open the betting pool now: how many times will Jonathan Legard mention Badoer without mentioning Schumacher in the same sentence?

  27. i’m glad to hear that. way to go luca badoer. you deserved to get that chance. show them you can do it. :)

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