Much like Honda did during the 2008 season, when it gave up mid-way through the year to start work on its 2009 racer, Ferrari appears to have thrown in the towel on its disastrous ‘09 campaign.
Following today’s European Grand Prix at Valencia, Spain, which was won by a delighted (and delightful) Rubens Barrichello in a Brawn-Mercedes, Ferrari star Kimi Raikkonen said he was pleased to have finished third behind McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton because that was absolutely the best he could do under the circumstances.
Raikkonen said he was very satisfied with his third-place finish because "the team is not bringing new parts for the car any more."
He went on to say that with some luck, he might be able to fight for a better position – a victory – but that would depend more on the hard luck of others than on any improvement in his car.
Raikkonen’s reference to the team not working to improve the car might also explain Ferrari’s commitment to keeping test driver Luca Badoer (49 Grands Prix and still not a world championship point) as Felipe Massa’s replacement through at least the next race in Belgium.
In short: they’ve written off the season and think it’s more important to show loyalty to the injured Massa and to reward faithful-servant Badoer than to defend the reputation and honour of the legendary Italian marque.
The Old Man must be rolling over in his grave.
To give him some credit, Badoer – who qualified last in the 20-car field in his first F1 race in 10 years – had a dynamite start and was passing other cars and mixing it up on the first lap.
But an eventual 17th-place finish after two spins and a drive-through penalty imposed when he drove over the blend line on his way out of the pits (I mean, how do you do that?) serves to illustrate yet again that he is in over his head.
I will have other observations on today’s Grand Prix, plus comments on this weekend’s NASCAR and Indy car races, in my weekly Monday Morning Racing Roundup.