MAY 19, 1997
Morbidelli tries a Sauber
FERRARI test driver Gianni Morbidelli was in action in Barcelona last week at the wheel of a Sauber Petronas and it is perhaps significant that while Johnny Herbert was given two days of testing, his regular team mate Nicola Larini was left without any testing.
Larini has disappointed the Swiss team this year, despite finishing sixth in Australia. Since then he had not been anywhere close to the pace of Herbert which has meant that Sauber has become rather a one-car operation.
Nicola has not helped his situation by making comments in the Italian press about Sauber favoring Herbert and Morbidelli's test may be an attempt by Sauber to spur Larini into action with the threat of losing his drive.
It should be remembered that Morbidelli was actually the team's first choice as Herbert's team mate last autumn and that he had reached agreement in principle to drive for the team until Ferrari insisted that Sauber take Larini as part of the deal over engines. Morbidelli's consolation prize was a Ferrari test drive but with Michael Schumacher preferring to do all the testing himself, this was not much reward for Gianni.
Morbidelli has raced in 60 Grands Prix since 1990 but has been out of a drive since the end of 1995. Last year he tested for Jordan-Peugeot.