It happened today – 27 September

It happened today – 27 September

On 27th September 1995, an unusual test took place at Fiorano. Nothing to do with car development, but four Italian drivers, Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella, Pierluigi Martini and Gianni Morbidelli, were put to the test in a celebration that had been planned months earlier, but which ended up taking place the day after it had been announced that Eddie Irvine, from Northern Ireland, would partner Schumacher as from the following season, much to the joy of the Italian press who were pushing to be able to write about a home-grown talent driving for Ferrari.

“We had decided to give this opportunity to Italian drivers and we made up a short list of these four,” Team Principal Jean Todt told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “It’s important that neither they nor others consider this the chance of a lifetime, but rather regard it only as a nice test. And also, to see their true potential, Fiorano is not enough and one would need to go to a real circuit.”

The four did their best, under the watchful eye of the French boss, Niki Lauda and President Montezemolo: there were only a few mistakes in the short 40 lap runs accorded to each of them at the wheel of a 412 T2, which a few weeks later in Estoril, Schumacher, on his first test in Red, judged to be a car good enough to win a title. Quickest was Badoer, with a best time of 1.04.81, followed by Morbidelli (1.05.19,) Fisichella (1.05.47) and Martini (1.05.94.)

Morbidelli had already raced for the Scuderia in 1991, when he replaced the sacked Prost for the final race of the season in Adelaide, Australia. Martini drove two seasons in a Ferrari-powered car, (1991 with Minardi and 1992 with Dallara) while Fisichella would have to wait until 2008 to drive a Prancing Horse powered Formula 1 car, before being fortunate enough to race for the Scuderia in the last five rounds of the following season. After that, he joined the AF Corse team, racing in GT series, winning amongst other races, the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours in the 458 GT2. The one who made Fiorano pretty much his second home was Luca Badoer, who in 1998 became official test driver for the Scuderia, a role he kept until the end of the 2010 season: today Luca works with Ferrari on the development of road cars.

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