- January 25, 1971
- Not Active
- Ferrari Lola-ferrari,Minardi-Ford,Forti-Ford
Luca Badoer is a former racing driver from Italy who spent most of his career as a test and reserve driver of Ferrari Formula 1 team.
He was born on 25th of January 1971 in Montebelluna, a town in Veneto region. Just like most of the racing drivers, he began a career in karting and was pretty successful. In 1987 Luca became a national champion in 100 cc class, while in the following year he won the Italian championship international 100 cc class.
Formula 3000 champion
After graduating karting, Badoer switched to formula racing where he proved his potential once again. From 1989 to 1991 he won many races in the Italian Formula 3 Championship, while in 1992 he moved to International Formula 3000 Championship. As a driver of Crypton Engineering team, Badoer won 4 out of 9 races before becoming the series’ champion. At the end of the season, he was ahead of many well-known names and future stars, like Rubens Barrichello, Jordi Gene, David Coulthard, Allan McNish, etc.
Formula 1 debut
With a trophy in his pocket, Badoer was ready for a debut in Formula 1 World Championship. In 1993 he signed with BMS Scuderia Italia but with the worst car on the grid, he was unable to do anything notable. However, in his rookie season, he managed to score the best result in his F1 career – the 7th place in San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
In the following year, Luca acted as a test and reserve driver of Minardi team after losing a chance to sign with Benetton. Badoer was calm and awaited his chance in 1995 when he was promoted to a race driver of Minardi, replacing Michele Alboreto. Unfortunately, he again was in one of the weakest teams in the championship but even after having an uncompetitive car, Badoer in a couple of races proved that he can be really fast. Unfortunately, he again failed to score a single point.
If Minardi was a weak team, Forti Corse was even weaker. Luca signed with the Alessandria-based team for 1996 campaign but the car he was driving again was uncompetitive. That year he also survived a hard crash in Argentine Grand Prix when Pedro Diniz in Ligier struck to Luca’s car from behind and flipped it upside down. In the middle of the campaign, Forti Corse folded and Badoer was left without a drive.
Unable to find a new engagement in Formula 1, Badoer spent 1997 season competing in the newly-formed FIA GT Championship. Driving a GBF Engineering’s Lotus Elise alongside Mimmo Schiattarella, Luca again was unable to impress. The season was marked by too many retirements but in a meantime, a new opportunity arrived. The Ferrari F1 team signed Badoer to be a test driver and he stayed with Scuderia until 2010.
Another try with Minardi
In parallel to his Ferrari commitments, Badoer drove for Minardi in 1999. However, nothing has changed in the team after his previous spell. The car again wasn’t competitive and reliable enough, so the best result was 8th position at Imola. In European Grand Prix, he was closest of winning the first points but retired from the race after gearbox failure while being 4th, with 12 laps to go. That year Luca also had a bad crash during test session which left him with a broken arm.
That was his last season as a full-time driver in Formula 1. He was unable to score a single point out of 48 races and that’s why many are counting Badoer as one of the worst drivers in the history of Formula 1, but those qualifications seem to be too harsh, considering the fact he never got an opportunity to drive a solid car until 2009.
Ferrari test driver
Being unable to find a proper engagement in Formula 1, Badoer in 2000 focused on his duties of Ferrari test driver. Over the years he became very important to the team, driving thousands of kilometers during tests at Mugello and Fiorano circuits. He played an important role in developing the Ferrari cars with which Michael Schumacher will dominate the championship in the 2000s.
"I have to say that over all these years Luca has always prepared himself in the best possible way to be ready to race. His work is to be ready for the tests and in case something happens to race. He is not someone just sitting there and waiting for something to happen. He is always ready and obviously works hard,“ said Michael Schumacher after being asked about Badoer’s role in the team.
Last chance and retirement
Unexpectedly, in 2009 he got an opportunity to drive for Ferrari what was like dream come true. He replaced injured Felipe Massa in two races of 2009 campaign but again the results were poor. In the European Grand Prix in Valencia, he was 17th, while in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa he ended 14th. He was put under huge criticism from media but most of the drivers defended Badoer saying that he was doing fine considering that he jumped into the racing seat after almost 10 years.
However, Ferrari decided not retain Luca’s services for the last five rounds of the season and replaced him with Giancarlo Fisichella. Badoer was sad and disappointed and blamed media for losing his place in Scuderia. However, he continued to act as the team’s test driver until the end of 2010 when he announced retirement.