Brought to you by TJ13 contributor OddBall
On this day… 20th August 2009
2009 saw the introduction into F1 of KERS (Kenetic Energy Recovery System) and the four teams using the systems -Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and BMW Sauber – hit numerous problems early doors. Meanwhile the Mercedes V8 engine combined with the simple and stunning chassis of the Honda designed Brawn car, burst into an early and substantial lead in both championships.
Brawn, Jenson and Rubens had shown the rest the way and were repeatedly raising the Union Jack along with a two fingered salute to the F1 establishment.
As the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were beginning to get a better service form their temperamental car, the Hungarian GP weekend came around. The now infamous qualifying session at the Hungaroring saw Massa hit by a large spring on the helmet causing him to pass out and spear into the waiting barrier.
Faced with a difficult car to drive and Massa out for months, Ferrari had a dilemma. Who could possibly drive the pig of a machine they had built?
The Answer; Ferrari’s son of God – Michael Schumacher.
The press went wild for the idea, fans were salivating and the Red Team were content with their solution… cue the drum roll.
The FIA had other ideas and ruled that because of an injury to his neck during his ‘time out’ from Formula One, Michael was not fit to drive. Schumacher had learned from his motor bike racing endeavours that entering the kitty litter in a car is much safer than trusting in kangaroo skin to save your ass.
With days to go before the European GP – which was actually then held in Europe – in Valencia, Ferrari’s plan was in tatters. Massa crocked and now their star replacement deemed unfit to drive.
On who could they call? Some believe Ghostbusters should have been the answer – but it was in fact on this day in 2009 that Luca Badoer was announced by Maranello.
It had been a decade since the Ferrari test driver, Badoer, had entered an F1 Grand Prix and his record between 1993 and 1999 was – no points from 48 starts.
Indeed, raised eyebrows were seen all around the paddock and doubts quickly turned to horror when Luca was more than two seconds behind team-mate Kimi in practice at Valencia. Badoer also incurred not one, two or three – but four fines for speeding in the pit lane.
In the race, Badoer finished 17th out of the 18 classified. At the next race in Belgium, Badoer finished plumb last.
Meanwhile, Giancarlo Fisichella was making headlines. At the Belgian Grand Prix the Italian had claimed pole position for Force India – their first – and his his second-place race finish behind Kimi Räikkönen gave the team their first points.
There was only one thing to be done. Ferrari appointed Fisi tout suite – and Luca Badoer was sent back to the ignominy from whence he came.
Badoer refused to accept criticism of his two races for Ferrari and blamed the negative media coverage of his driving for Ferrari’s decision to replace him.
The truth was he was simply far too slow.
Giancarlo Fisichella finished 9,13,12,10 and 16 in the remaining races that year for Ferrari.