JULY 28, 2004
Liuzzi and Ferrari
There is every reason to take very seriously the story published in The Independent in London, suggesting that Ferrari is looking at signing up Formula 3000 stand-out Vitantonio Liuzzi as a test driver for 2005 with the long-term intention of developing th 23-year-old into a replacement for Michael Schumacher in 2007. Michael Schumacher's contract with the team runs out then and although he has hinted that he might go on beyond then, our sources say that he is definitely going to retire. Liuzzi is a good choice for Ferrari and beat Schumacher on the only occasion when the two men went head to head at a karting event at Kerpen in 2001. One might argue that Liuzzi knew the machinery better than Schumacher but it is a little known fact that Michael went through considerable preparation for that event, doing weeks of testing and losing weight for the race. While the event did not attract a huge amount of attention at the time, there is no doubt that it will have made an impression on Schumacher himself and it is quite likely that he has been consulted on possible future drivers at Maranello.
However, it is Liuzzi's performance this year that has really marked him out as a man of the future. He has not only dominated six of the seven races and driven a blinding race on the one occasion when he hit trouble, he has done it with a sense of control and organization which is really extraordinary for a young driver. Liuzzi and Todt have met and we hear that the Ferrari chief was impressed by Vitantonio's attitude.
The logical thing if Ferrari wants Liuzzi would be for him to become a test driver in 2005 and then move to Ferrari ally Sauber in 2006 before joining Ferrari in 2007. There is an argument that it is better to keep a driver racing as much as possible and so Liuzzi must be considered as a potential Sauber driver in 2005. That could be convenient as Sauber is still trying to figure out how to keep hold of Red Bull funding, and Liuzzi is a Red Bull driver.
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