Luca Badoer will replace the injured Felipe Massa at the forthcoming European Grand Prix, and while the Italian may be the reserve and test driver at Ferrari, the fact that he hasn’t raced at the highest level for a decade made his selection over a rising star a surprise for many
and underlines the lack of a young driver programme at the Italian team.
"Faith in Luca Badoer, who's one of us," Luca di Montezemolo told La Stampa. "Destiny has given him a unique possibility now he has to make the best out of it. We will support him with all we've got."
For the 38-year old Badoer, his return to Formula One competition is a dream come true and something he had been preparing for ever since Massa’s qualifying accident in Hungary. "Since I've been a child I always wanted to race for Ferrari and now I've got the possibility to make this desire come true,” he said.
Surprisingly Badoer has not driven the current F60 challenger as the team relied on fellow tester Marc Gene as well as race drivers Kimi Raikkonen
and Felipe Massa ahead of the season. Despite the lack of mileage, Badoer is not expecting any problems.
"Although this year's rules foresee a drastically reduced mileage for us test drivers, I have prepared myself to be ready under any circumstances,” he said. “I've been in this business for quite a while.
After Felipe's accident I intensified my programme and I'm sure that I won't have any problems from this point of view. I will give it my best for them and for all the Ferrari fans, who - and I'm sure about that - will give me their support.”
Fellow Italian and former F1 driver Alex Zanardi however believes that the team should have looked for some young rising talent rather than relying on their veteran test driver. “Taking a young guy from GP2 would have been the most logical choice," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Nico Hulkenberg leads the GP2 championship and is contracted to Williams however, while Roman Grosjean is second in the series and is firmly tied to Renault. McLaren invested in the rise of champion Lewis Hamilton, Toyota invest in Japanese talent while Red Bull has a massive young driver programme.
Ferrari meanwhile does not groom talent for its Formula One team, a strategy that has left them with limited options after Michael Schumacher
declared he was not race fit to stand in for Massa.