When Formula One driver Piers Courage was killed in a car entered in the 1970 world championship by Frank Williams, driver Tim Schenken waited until after the funeral to call and ask for the ride.
He was lucky he got it because you can bet Williams received calls from other drivers looking for work even before Courage’s body was cold.
That’s racing: a beautiful sport that can also be the most cruel.
Which makes Ferrari’s decision to replace the injured Felipe Massa with Grand Prix veteran and Ferrari test driver (and slow as molasses) Luca Badoer very puzzling. Yes, it’s commendable that Ferrari is saying to Massa, "Your seat is safe, take all the time you need to recover."
But what about the millions of fans? What about Ferrari’s reputation as a front-runner in the sport’s most demanding class?
A week ago, I officially launched this blog by naming my personal Top Ten drivers of all time. No. 1 on my list was Mario Andretti. In the course of discussing why I picked him, I told the story of 1982, when Ferrari needed a driver to replace the injured Didier Pironi. Il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari, didn’t muck around. He went looking for the most talented driver available, someone who could get the job done and defend the honour of Ferrari. That man was Andretti, who went out and won the pole at the Italian Grand Prix.
So what’s happening at Valencia this weekend – Badoer is 20th on the 20-car grid – is an embarrassment. He is even behind two rookies, including Renault new boy Romain Grosjean (six positions ahead) who had never driven an F1 car other than in a straight line until yesterday. This is clearly unacceptable.
Sebastien Bourdais is available and sufficiently talented to fill in positively at Ferrari until Massa returns. Ferrari should put him in the car at the next race, Spa.