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Ferrari eyeing Bortolotti? Reports link Italian to second seat at Maranello squad
Formula Two race winner Mirko Bortolotti continues to be linked with the second race seat at the Ferrari F1 team in the absence of the injured Felipe Massa.
The role is currently occupied by long-term Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who drove for the team last time out in Valencia (22/23 August) and will keep his position for the next round at Spa-Francorchamps. Speculation is rife, however, that Badoer may be replaced after Spa and Bortolotti is being touted as a possible candidate for the drive.
The 19-year-old Italian has previous form with Ferrari, having reportedly impressed Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo in a test for the Scuderia - which was awarded to the top three finishers in the Italian F3 Championship - at the end of 2008. Bortolotti set an unofficial lap record of 59.111s around Fiorano, bettering both his F3 rivals by more than a second on the day, and eclipsing previous efforts during the season by Kimi Räikkönen, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene.
Speaking after the test, Ferrari’s Sporting Director Luca Baldisseri remarked: "These boys have astonished and surprised me. The extraordinary thing is that they didn't make even one mistake, they were immediately very quick and showed they have enormous potential.”
Bortolotti’s superb season in Italian F3 led to him being snapped up by the Red Bull Junior Team at the beginning of 2009. He was placed in Formula Two for the year, and secured his maiden victory in the third race of the season in Brno, Czech Republic, back in June. He has scored two further podiums, in Valencia and at Donington Park, and currently lies sixth in the overall standings.
For now though, the Italian insists his focus is on Formula Two, and he refuses to be drawn into the speculation surrounding his future.
“All I can say is that I’m racing in F2 and I’m not thinking about anything other than the championship. I want to be higher than sixth, so I have to work hard and apply myself 100%. There is still enough time to improve, so if I can get the best possible results hopefully I can move up the order again.
“There has been quite a lot of speculation in Italy surrounding the Ferrari seat. To be honest I think Luca (Badoer) just needs a bit more time to get a feeling for the car. Everything has changed since he last raced, but I’m sure he will be quicker at Spa as the pace is there in the car. As for me, I’m just focusing on Formula Two. It’s nice to be linked with the team, but my mentality is just to do a good job in Formula Two for the remaining three rounds – after that, I’ll start thinking about my future.”
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