Badoer relishing Ferrari chance

There will be no consoling the fans who had hoped to witness Michael Schumacher's comeback this weekend but, even without the Ferrari great, Formula One will still see an astonishing return.

A decade on from his last appearance on the starting grid, and still without a point after 49 starts for various now-defunct teams, Luca Badoer can look forward to Sunday's European Grand Prix as the first Italian to race for Ferrari in 15 years.

Called up as a replacement for a replacement, with Schumacher having to abort plans to come out of retirement and stand-in for injured Brazilian Felipe Massa, Badoer has his chance of a lifetime.

Just scoring a point will be hard enough for the 38-year-old, who has barely driven the F60 car now that testing is banned during the season, and he knows it.

"I am very motivated to make the most of this opportunity, even if I know I am facing a tough challenge," the test driver told the Ferrari website.

"It will effectively be a test session for me, but I will be trying my best to secure a good result."

The team's focus will be mostly on 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, who finished second in Hungary last month after Massa - last year's winner in Valencia - was hit on the head and seriously injured by flying debris in qualifying.

McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton won in Budapest and is hungry for more while Brawn's championship leader Jenson Button is eager to reassert himself at a key point in the season after struggling in the last three races.

Button is 18.5 points ahead of Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber with seven races remaining and will stay top of the standings whatever happens in Valencia.

Webber and team mate Sebastian Vettel, third in the championship, will be hard to beat while Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso was on pole at the last race and can see signs of a Renault resurgence.

Throw in the threat from Germany's Nico Rosberg, who has scored points in his last six races for Williams, as well as Brawn's Rubens Barrichello, and Badoer will have his work cut out to make any impression.

The Italian is under no illusions, acutely aware of the painful circumstances behind his good fortune.

"My first thoughts when I take to the track will be for Felipe, because I got a real fright when I saw his accident," he said. "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...I feel sorry for him, because not only are we friends but I am also an admirer of his."

A new Ferrari driver is a rarity, and Badoer will be very much in the limelight, but he will not be the only newcomer to the street circuit.

France's Romain Grosjean will be making his Formula One debut after Renault dropped Brazilian Nelson Piquet while Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari lines up for the first time before his home crowd after racing for Toro Rosso in Hungary.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own