Interview: Luca Badoer, F1 Karting Dad

from FIA Karting

“I’LL HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF MY YEARS IN KARTING WITH BRANDO”

Luca Badoer was a privileged observer of the FIA Karting events between 2019 and 2021, alongside his son Brando who raced in OK-Junior and then OK.

An excellent Karting driver in the 1980s, the Italian won the Formula 3000 Intercontinental Championship in 1992, before moving to Formula 1 the following year. He took part in 51 Grands Prix and was a test driver for Scuderia Ferrari for 13 seasons.

WHAT MEMORIES DO YOU HAVE OF YOUR TIME IN KARTING?

They were very good years. I started with my father as a mechanic. My good results allowed me to progress to international level with the official Birel team. I had to wait until I was 18 years old to make my debut in a single-seater, in 1989. My most beautiful memory will remain my victory in the Italian Championship at Val Vibrata in 1988. I was the leader in the Qualifying Heats, but a withdrawal in the Prefinal meant I had to start last in the Final. I made an incredible comeback and won the race. I was on fire!

WHEN YOU RETURNED TO THE KARTING CIRCUIT WITH YOUR SON BRANDO, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE SPORT OF YOUR YOUTH?

Overall, I found the basics of the system I knew, but everything became much more professional. When I started out, I wasn’t confronted with drivers of many different nationalities so soon, in high-level events. There weren’t as many drivers who could win. Nowadays there are a lot of excellent drivers from the Mini category onwards. Very early on, young people start to work as professional drivers in extremely well structured teams. It’s a great way to learn, I must admit. Karting remains more than ever an excellent school. I even think it’s a pity that drivers are now moving on to single-seaters too early.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT AGE WOULD BE THE MOST APPROPRIATE?

We should push back the age by at least a year. At the moment, the majority of drivers enter F4 at the age of 15, so they start testing at the age of 14, even though they are still young children. They lack maturity. As they dream of a career in motor racing at a high level, their supporters follow this system, myself included! In the end, this is not the best solution. Physically and mentally, they need to wait and pursue their karting career a bit more.



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DID BRANDO ALWAYS WANT TO BECOME A DRIVER HIMSELF?

Yes. He was still very young when I hung up my helmet, but he remembers it. In the following years he followed Formula 1 closely and passionately. Eventually his desire to get behind the wheel of a kart manifested itself.

AS A FORMER TOP DRIVER AND FATHER OF A DRIVER, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FINDING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE BETWEEN YOUR SON AND HIS TEAM?

I am quite involved, we talk a lot and share as much information as possible. I am his first advisor! However, I find that we spend a lot of time on the circuits. In FIA Karting, the tests start on Thursday, which is a good thing. But this is not the case for other events. And if we add the private tests organised by the teams, international karting requires too much availability, which implies significant financial means.

The youngsters miss far too many school days. What will happen to them if they don’t pursue a career in motor sport and their schooling is insufficient? Currently, Brando has to work hard to make up for his absences. This is a problem for our family, as we want him to succeed in school as well, without choosing the solution of homeschooling, by correspondence.

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE PERIOD YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH WITH BRANDO?

I am very proud of the progress he has made over the years. In Mini, Junior and OK he showed that he was one of the fastest drivers of his generation. I will have many fond memories of the years I spent with him.



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