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Luca Badoer: it’s a dream come true 12 Aug 2009

Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari F2008 
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Fuji Speedway, Japan, Friday, 10 October 2008 Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 17 November 2008. Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 19 November 2008. Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Algarve Motor Park, Portimao, Portugal, 17 December 2008.

The news that Michael Schumacher won’t return to Formula One racing at the forthcoming European Grand Prix has disappointed many fans around the world. But for test driver Luca Badoer, the man tasked by Ferrari with taking over Felipe Massa's cockpit in Valencia, Schumacher’s decision to pull out of his planned comeback in light of an aggravated neck injury, is a mixed blessing.

"Since I've been a child I always wanted to race for Ferrari and now I've got the possibility to make this desire come true,” the Italian told Ferrari’s official website. "I'm really sorry for Michael, because I know how much he wanted to return: I'm saying that as his friend and his fan.

"We've been in contact during the last days and we drove karts together at Lonato last week. So I followed him very closely in this attempt. He called me a couple of minutes after team principal Stefano Domenicali had told me the news and I know that he'll always be ready to give me some advice and he will shout for me."

Although Badoer is Ferrari’s principal test driver, in light of this season’s restrictions, he hasn’t yet sampled the F60 on track. He has, however, familiarised himself with the car’s controls and believes that he is fit enough to withstand the physical demands of a Grand Prix.

"Although this year's rules foresee a drastically reduced mileage for us test drivers, I have prepared myself to be ready under any circumstances, just as I've been doing the last years too," he explained. "I've been in this business for quite a while. After Felipe's accident I intensified my programme and I'm sure that I won't have any problems from this point of view."

While the 38 year-old, who has tested for the team since 1998, was keen to thank Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and Domenicali for having enough faith in his experience to honour him with the drive, he was also quick to wish Massa a speedy recovery.

"My first thought goes to Felipe,” he concluded. “I was shocked about his accident and I'm so glad that the situation is getting better so quickly. I wish him all the best and to get back on the track as soon as possible. I also want to thank Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali for the faith they put in me and for the honour that they are handing the car over to me.

"I will give it my best for them and for all the Ferrari fans, who - and I'm sure about that - will give me their support."

Badoer will sample the F60 for the first time on Friday August 21, when first practice gets underway in Valencia. The Italian made the last of his previous 48 Grand Prix starts back in 1999, with Minardi in Japan.