Luca Badoer says he is under no illusions that he needs to improve a lot after a troubled first day back in Formula 1 in Valencia on Friday.
As well as struggling for pace in his first race weekend since the 1999 Japanese Grand Prix, Badoer's only notable achievement was getting caught speeding in the pit-lane a record four times in one session.
Those offenses earned him a reprimand and three separate fines totaling 5,400 Euros and left onlookers joking that he was faster in the pit-lane than he was on the track.
AUTOSPORT reports that all the speeding offenses were caused by Badoer readjusting from the 100km/h he is used to in testing to the 60 km/h demanded in practice, which calls for different braking distances.
Despite the difficulties of the day, which he ended 18th overall and 1.3 seconds adrift of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, Badoer felt that, considering the circumstances, it was not a total disaster. However, he conceded that things would need to improve by a considerable margin especially if Ferrari was not going to reconsider its plan to keep him in the car until the injured Felipe Massa is ready to return.
"I did the program that the team was expecting from me," Badoer told reporters after the end of the opening day of practice for the European Grand Prix.
"We have to improve a lot and we have to work a lot. But considering the situation that without driving in eight months and it's the first time for me on this track, I am very happy with the job I did today. I made no mistakes, I didn't crash, I just drive to learn the track. Finally, it was a positive day for me."
Badoer felt that his showing had not been helped by the fact that his return to F1 came on a track that he did not know.
"I have a double difficulty because the track is new," he said. "It's difficult in F1 to find the limit. You can arrive immediately at one second, but the last second is very difficult to bring it down, especially if you have a new circuit.
"So for me it was really difficult today but it was on the programme to arrive at this level. The difference with Kimi in lap time was not so big, so I think that we did a great job.
"Obviously, we have a lot of work to do this afternoon and tomorrow because I want to be in a better position tomorrow."
With Badoer's day having turned out far from ideal, the Italian also admitted that his own feelings on his F1 return had changed since the morning following the excitement, interest and goodwill that had pervade since it was announced he would be used instead of Michael Schumacher.
"Until last night I was dreaming and flying and thinking I'm very happy, but this morning I brought myself down to earth and thought that now it is the day I have to work," he said. "I worked a lot with my engineer and this is the future. The dreaming is finished and now I need the result."
Although Kimi Raikkonen made it clear his focus would be on his own racing rather than helping Badoer, the Italian at least had some help in the form of Schumacher.
"In every way he is supporting me on both the morale and the technical side," said Badoer about Schumacher. "I'm very happy that he's here for me."