Ferrari is one of the greatest brands which exist today and though some may differ, Ferrari is F1 and F1 needs them more than Ferrari needs the sport. Ferrari has always been a dream drive for any drive in the sport and even when they were going thru a very rough phase in the late 80’s and early 90’s, respected French driver Jean Alesi choose the team over Williams and missed his chance to become a World Champion. Ferrari is the Holy Grail for any driver. Some very famous name like Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, John Surtees, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve, Carlos Reutemann, Jody Scheckter, René Arnoux, Nigel Mansell, Gerhard Berger, Alain Prost, Jean Alesi, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Räikkönen, Felipe Massa and ofcourse the most famous and the greastest driver in F1 history Michael Schumacher all drove and many even won Championships for the team.
There are times when the car is real bad and however great the driver is, it will still be off the pace but what Luca Badoer has done is a cardinal sin for the Tifosi and when you have one driver winning and the other driver coming in last, well it is a disgrace and the Tifosi has always seen 2 real quick drivers on the cart and the last few years have seen both the drivers racing each other for the title means that Luca driving for the Ferrari is a mess and if the team does not replace him with someone, well you can be assured that there would be a riot in Monza and the team will be better off with going with only one car. On the bright side, they can save some money rather than have a guy coming in last and way off the pace which the car can produce. Yes Luca will be faster than anyone of us but then he is in F1 which is the pinnacle of motorsport and when driving for a champion team, you have to drive like a champion which he is not anyway close by. Would rather see a 18 year old do this rather than a 38 year test driver who has put in more miles on a Ferrari F1 car than any other driver in history!
Ferrari has well too many options and though some may just be speculation others are realistic enough and surely a majority of the options cannot do any worse than Luca, so for Monza the team should change their driver and well they can either look into the future or give someone a drive for a nostalgic feel or just shock everyone and just do it for a publicity stunt which I feel the team should avoid. So let’s look at some of the options the team has for Monza:
Michael Schumacher is once again on top of everyone’s list and though both Ferrari and the Tifosi would love this to happen, Schumacher’s neck has not recovered fully and I don’t think he wants to get in when he is not fully fit. But Schumacher when half fit and 40 is still better than 15 out of the 20 drivers on track.
Valentino Rossi the legendary Moto GP Champion has achieved everything he can in the sport and though he is well set to win the title once again this year, he has said in the past that driving for Ferrari is also a dream of his and being an Italian would make it easier for him too but then this is a very long shot and it may just not happen.
Giancarlo Fisichella has always dreamt of racing for Ferrari and after a stunning Belgian GP where he scored the first points for the Force India team by coming in 2nd and challenging Kimi for the win till the end, he is the most logical choice as he is in form and after his stint with Ferrari till the end of 2009, he can sign up as their test driver from 2010 onwards but he still has one more year of racing left in him and this all depends on Force India.
Fernando Alonso is the best overall driver on the grid and though he moving to Ferrari for 2010 is the worst kept secret in F1 history, he is a very good choice and if the 2010 move does happen, it is good for both the parties involved and it should be interesting to see Alonso and Kimi battling it out with the same equipment.
Robert Kubica driving for Ferrari is earlier than Alonso coming over as BMW has pulled out of F1 and only last year he was fighting for the championship with Hamitlon and Massa. There are talks of him moving to Renault for the next season, so there could be a 3 way swap possible but he is a very good driver and Ferrari should seriously consider him for the remaining races.
Marc Gene, Ferrari’s other test driver and unlike Luca, he does have recent racing experience as he did win this year’s 24 hours Le Mans and have subbed in the past for Williams. But after Luca’s performance, Ferrari will think twice to put him in a car but he would have been a better choice than Luca and maybe Ferrari did make a huge mistake in putting Luca.
Sébastien Loeb is again an interesting option and he has shown his interest in racing for USF1 team for 2010, it could be a huge thing for him to race without testing for Ferrari at Monza. This would be only a publicity stunt which Ferrari would never do.
David Coulthard, the test driver for Red Bull is a solid man to have in the #2 car as he has been with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull teams. Also he did race in the championship only last season and he knows all the tracks very well.
Jarno Trulli is another Italian driver on the grid and though he has a contract with Toyota for 2009, chances is that he will be out for 2010 and with current experience of the track, he should be a good bet for Ferrari provided Toyota is willing to release him.
Tonio Liuzzi is Force India’s test driver and he has had prior racing experience with Both Red Bull and Toro Rosso He too is an Italian but this is a long shot which Ferrari may not want to try out at Monza.
Jacques Villeneuve is a former World Champion whose father drove for Ferrari but he is too old and has been out of F1 for a longtime now and Ferrari will definitely not take him in unless he is the last driver available.
Sébastien Bourdais is an F1 reject who was axed by the Toro Rosso team. He has used the Ferrari engine but then would you want a driver who was axed by STR?
Nelson Piquet was another option which was floating around but then with the Singapore GP scandal of last year erupting and this news could just see Renault walking out of F1, well Piquet will surely be the most hated man on grid and Ferrari would rather run one car or even give Luca a chance rather than give Piquet a drive.
Nico Hulkenberg is said to be a very talented driver who is Williams test driver and he has Wili Webber as his manager. The same guy who managed Schumacher and Hulkenberg should be a very intresting choice as the team can actually check how good he is and if he is the real deal, then they can actually sign him up for post 2012.
Mirko Bortolotti is said to be the most talented Italian driver and he is only 19 and currently driving in the inaugural FIA’s F2 Champioship. Mirko has tested with Ferrari in the past and in 2008, he set the fastest time ever on the Fiorano Circuit by a F2008 car. He should be a pick with the future in mind.
This may never happen but would definitely garner the most media attention after Schumacher and if somehow Ferrari gets Danica Patrick to race for them not only we will know how good she is in an F1 car but also the kind of press coverage will be mind blowing. With all the bad publicity F1 has had this year, this could be the only thing after Schumacher’s return which could save F1 and also there is also the sight of a sexy girl driving the most beautiful scarlet red car on the track.
If incase Ferrari has to save money, well it is better for them to run only one car rather than run Luca.