Ferrari have finally decided to put Luca Badoer out of his public humiliation by hiring Giancarlo Fisichella to sub for the recovering Filipe Massa for the remainder of the season.
Poor Badoer. He’s been waiting in the wings for the past decade hoping for a chance to get back in the show. When Ferrari gave him the chance, his performance was worse than that of the two rookie drivers currently in the field. If the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play here, Ferrari could rethink Luca’s value as a test driver.
The word in the paddock is that Ferrari have offered Fisichella a two-phase deal: he’ll race for the remainder of this year, and will assume a testing role next year. Since Ferrari already have two test drivers, either Marc Gene or Badoer would probably be let go for 2010. Given Badoer’s dreadful performance at Valencia and Spa, he hasn’t done himself any favors with respect to his tenure at the team.
Meanwhile, if the rumors about the deal are true, it makes sense for Ferrari. Given a test driver’s diminished importance during race season, owing to the in-season test ban, from March to November the tester has a primary value as a stand-in for the regular drivers, should they become injured. Clearly, Badoer has zero value in this respect. He hasn’t raced since the mid-nineties, and even then he didn’t make much of an impression.
Clearly, Ferrari need a tester who can step in at a moment’s notice, and race at the top level. Probably Fisi will be following Ferrari’s efforts to introduce a third car next year with renewed interest.
This deal also makes great sense for Force India. Team principal, Vijay Mallya, has said, “The agreement will secure Giancarlo’s long-term future with Ferrari…We would like to stress that we have not agreed to any financial settlement with Ferrari.”
This would seem to substantiate Fisi’s going to Ferrari for 2010 as a tester. This solves a problem for Force India, who purportedly were going to drop Fisi from the team next year anyway, in favor of Antonio Luizzi. With this arrangement, they can give Luizzi a trial run this year, and presumably get paid for letting Fisi out of his current contract early, regardless of what Mallya has said about there being no “financial settlement” involved.
Clearly, this is an “everybody wins” scenario. If you don’t count poor Badoer, that is.