Giancarlo Fisichella has made no secret of his desire to drive for Ferrari and in 2004 he at least has a Ferrari engine powering him, albeit underneath a Sauber chassis. Fisichella has had a tough time in Formula One recently; despite his much ...
Giancarlo Fisichella has made no secret of his desire to drive for Ferrari and in 2004 he at least has a Ferrari engine powering him, albeit underneath a Sauber chassis. Fisichella has had a tough time in Formula One recently; despite his much lauded talent the Italian has yet to secure the top drive he's been searching for. Dropped by Benetton just as it morphed into Renault and went from strength to strength, Fisichella struggled with a recalcitrant Jordan for two years before cutting his losses and heading for Sauber in 2004.Ferrari, and we have the 2003 gearbox so it's looking good."
Fisichella made his decision to move to Sauber last summer: "I visited the factory in July and had a chat with Peter Sauber. I saw the new wind tunnel, which is fantastic, maybe the best in Formula One, and after that I signed the contract. With Jordan it was not so good, the budget was getting worse and worse, so I was looking around."
If a big team should come knocking, Fisichella would answer swiftly. He readily admits that his decision to sign for Sauber was influenced by the team's connection with Ferrari but any of the top teams would be a welcome move. "It's very important for me to show my talents this year, I need to have some good results," he acknowledges. "Then we will see…it's my dream to race with one of the top teams. I spoke about that to Peter (Sauber) and if the opportunity arises we will decide together what is the best move."
"It's quite frustrating," he added of having the good reputation but not getting a top drive. "After many years in Formula One and getting good results in a not so competitive car, the target for me is to drive for one of the best teams. To do that I have to show my talents again with Sauber."
Fisichella's maiden Grand Prix victory came at Brazil in 2003 in circumstances that perhaps took the edge off the excitement; on lap count back after the race was red flagged, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was awarded the win but then the decision was reversed a few days later. "Well, unfortunately I couldn't celebrate my first win on the podium, which was very bad. But, you know, I won the race, it's there in history now so I'm happy too."
Naturally he wants more wins but Fisichella is keeping realistic about the chances of that with Sauber: "Honestly, I think not," he admits of the likelihood of a victory coming up in the next year or two. "It's quite difficult, there are the three top teams that are much stronger than us and have much bigger budgets. But then you have situations like last year; it was wet and I won the race with the poorer car."
Despite recent seasons being less successful than he would have hoped for, Fisichella's motivation is not flagging: "I am motivated because even in the dark days I have to do my best. I have to work, to give the engineers feedback, to give good information to improve the car. I am very strong mentally and physically, I feel well, much better than the past, and I want to drive as soon as possible."Ferrari should the team need his services, part of the agreement which exists between Ferrari and Sauber. Peter Sauber said the team didn't have the resources for a lot of testing and it can support Ferrari in tyre testing which would be beneficial to Sauber. Also, it would be good for the drivers to experience a top car. For Giancarlo it is something he is eagerly anticipating.
"It is fantastic news for me," he agrees. "I'm very happy about that. I will drive for Ferrari for a few tests, I don't know when but it's a good opportunity for me. It's very important for me to do my best and to give them the right information about the car and the tyres." Whether that will lead to anything else remains to be seen, but obviously he hopes so.
Many think that 2004 will be a straight fight between Fisichella and teammate Felipe Massa, who spent 2003 testing for Ferrari, for a race seat with the Scuderia in 2005. Giancarlo shrugs it off: "I don't know if that's true or not but, anyway, it's very important to be quicker than your teammate and I will try my best to do that."
"Felipe is a very good driver, he's quick, he learned a lot last year. It's important to have a good friendship aspect, to be able to work together and give good information to the team."
Of the younger generation of drivers Kimi Raikkonen gets Fisichella's approval, among others: "Raikkonen did well," he said. "He had a good car, and (Fernando) Alonso, he is good." Alonso drives the Renault that Giancarlo may well have been behind the wheel of himself had he stayed with the team. He wryly grinned at the suggestion it is a little frustrating to see the young Spaniard doing so well. "Well, I'm happy for him," he said, deapan, earning a wave of laughter.
As for who will be champion in 2004, Fisichella can't see Michael Schumacher being dethroned just yet. "Michael and Ferrari are still top for me. But now Williams and McLaren are closer, so it's going to be very interesting."