Ferrari boss plays down Badoer struggles

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has indicated Luca Badoer will be given time to prove himself despite the Italian?s underwhelming efforts in Valencia this weekend.

Italian veteran Badoer, the Scuderia?s test driver for the past 12 years, has been elevated to the race team for the European Grand Prix but finished dead last in Saturday?s qualifying session.

?Luca?s last place was widely predicted,? said team principal Domenicali. ?Returning to racing after so much time, furthermore on a track not known to him and one that is difficult to get to grips with, is a daunting task for him.?

A gap of 1.5 seconds to the next slowest driver, Toro Rosso?s Jaime Alguersuari, starkly underlined the gulf between Badoer – who has not driven an F1 car in anger for several months due to the in-season testing ban – and the rest of the pack. Badoer, standing in for the injured Felipe Massa, also finished 2.5 seconds slower than team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn went on to rub salt in Badoer?s wounds in the top-10 shoot-out when he posted a time 1.3 seconds better than the Italian?s quickest of the day despite carrying enough fuel to complete his first stint in Sunday?s race.

The Maranello management are adamant, however, that Badoer retains their full support.

Domenicali added: ?On Sunday our race will be divided into two: on one side we will be aiming for a positive result to defend our third place in the constructors? classification, while with Luca we will try and finish the race, to obtain sufficient experience to tackle the forthcoming rounds in a different fashion.?

Despite playing down expectations ahead of his comeback this weekend, 38-year-old Badoer conceded his performance had been inadequate.

He said: ?Obviously, I?m very disappointed as it?s never nice to be last in any situation, but I always knew it would be tough.

?On Sunday it will be important to finish the race and that will be my target. I feel good physically and I have no problems on that score. For sure, if I?d had two days? testing under my belt, it would have been a different story.?