DRIVERS: LUCA BADOER

Name: Luca Badoer
Nationality: Italy
Date of birth: January 25, 1971 - Montebelluna, Italy

Once regarded as the comingman in Italy, Luca Badoer ultimately had an unfulfilled F1 career.

After graduating to cars via the time-honored route of karting, in which he was Italian champion, he stunned onlookers by beating fancied runner Alex Zanardi to win the final round of the 1990 Italian F3 Championship. The following season he was the dominant driver, winning four races in a row until three were taken away on a technicality concerning his choice of tires. Lacking momentum, he never regained the forcefulness of his early races.

Team owner Patrizio Cantu was impressed, however, and offered him a ride with his Team Crypton F3000 enterprise for 1992. Driving a Reynard 92D with great precision he emerged a worthy champion and seemed set for greatness in F1. However, Scuderia Italia's Lola-Ferraris proved a complete disaster in 1993, as he vied for the final place on the grid with experienced teammate Michele Alboreto.

The fiasco almost killed Badoer's career, but he regained ground driving for Minardi in 1995. In the perennially underfunded Italian team his best results were eight places in Canada and Hungary, and ninth in Japan.

A switch to the Forti Corse team in 1996 yielded little, and he returned to Minardi in 1999 after a two-year F1 layoff in which he had been Ferrari's official test driver.

The turning point in his career could have been Michael Schumacher's leg-breaking accident at Silverstone in July 1999, but Ferrari opted instead for Mika Salo as the German's stand-in. Quiet, introspective and the last person to blow his own trumpet, the Milanese driver was deeply disappointed.

By 2000 he had achieved the dubious distinction of being the driver who had competed in the most Grands Prix (48) without scoring a single World Championship point. What made it even more painful was the gearbox failure which robbed him of a glorious fourth place almost within sight of the chequered flag in the extraordinary GP of Europe at the Nurburgring in 1999. In 2000 he was unable to find a fulltime F1 drive and took the decision to become the Ferrari test driver and he remains in this job.

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