Ferrari on Monday finally ended all talk of a Michael Schumacher comeback in the wake of Luca Badoer's miserable weekend at the European Grand Prix.
Team boss Stefano Domenicali said there was no way that the seven-times champion German driver would be drafted in to replace the hapless Luca Badoer as a deputy for injured Brazilian Felipe Massa. He said: “I'm happy he is training, but what I can absolutely rule out is that Michael can return this year as a racing driver.”
Schumacher was lined up initially to replace Massa, following the Latin American's serious accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but an old neck injury forced him to abandon his comeback.
As the critics had a field day following Badoer's unimpressive and error-strewn weekend in Valencia, Domenicali leapt to the defence of the veteran 38-year-old test driver.
He said: “It would have been tough for Michael, too, because it's a difficult track and it's new. Obviously his approach is always aggressive. Would he have done well? “I really think so, because he wouldn't have gone for it if he wasn't confident. As for how well, I'd be dishonest: I don't know. However, he would have done well,” he said.
Meanwhile, veteran Badoer will retain his place for next weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
Despite another desultory and slow performance that ended with him finishing last in the European Grand Prix, after a weekend of poor laps and penalties, the 38-year-old test driver is likely to be retained because of Ferrari's family values.
Domenicali said: “We will speak together. I think we will discuss it tonight, but I think it is important to keep up Luca because he is a real team player and this is important in Ferrari.”