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Ferrari may be forced to use test driver The newly introduced ban on Formula One testing during the season may force the Ferrari team to play safe and opt for one of its test drivers, Luca Badoer or Marc Gene, to substitute for the injured Felipe Massa for the remaining seven rounds of the world championship starting with European grand prix at Valencia on 23 August.
This harsh reality emerged in the wake of Michael Schumacher's decision not to try making a comeback with the Italian team for which he won five of his seven world championship titles before retiring at the end of 2006. Schumacher's long-time manager, Willi Weber, today confirmed that he was "200% sure" that the 40-year-old German would not be competing when the racing resumes after the month-long mid-season break. This assertion by Weber came shortly after Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm seemed to suggest that Schumacher would not rule out the prospect of driving the car, although, if he did, he would need to get a neck injury, sustained in a motorcycle accident some months ago, checked out before making a decision.
There is a slim possibility that Ferrari might be able to negotiate Fernando Alonso's release from Renault for him to compete at least in Valencia, the second of two Spanish rounds of the title chase. As things stand Alonso will be twiddling his thumbs over the European grand prix weekend as the Renault squad was suspended from this race after Alonso's car lost in insecurely-attached front wheel in Sunday's Hungarian grand prix. Neither Badoer nor Gene are regarded as front-line drivers. Badoer is 38 and has been a Ferrari test driver for 12 years prior to which he raced unsuccessfully for Minardi in Formula One. Gene also drove for Minardi and then drove three grands prix for BMW Williams before joining Ferrari in 2005.
Massa, meanwhile, is recovering well and could walk out of a Budapest hospital on his own within 10 days, his doctor said today. "My expectation is that he would walk out of the hospital," said Peter Bazso, the medical director of the AEK hospital. "If his recovery continues at this pace, I wouldn't rule out that he could leave within 10 days." Guardian.co.uk
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