Giancarlo Fisichella: the driver debates

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India F1 Team, Bahrain, 2008

In the first driver debate we looked at Adrian Sutil. Today it’s the turn of his vastly more experienced team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

The 35 year-old Italian will be present at his 200th Grand Prix in Spain in two weeks’ time. How do you rate his career?

When Giancarlo Fisichella won the first round of the 2005 world championship at Melbourne it must have felt like vindication for him.

After years of languishing in sub-standard machinery, Fisichella had become the man almost everyone in the paddock expected to shine once he finally got into a recent car.

The 2005 Renault R25 certainly was that – Fernando Alonso won seven Grands Prix in it and, with it, the world championship. Fisichella didn’t win another race all year long, ending the season fifth with 58 points to Alonso’s 133.

He added another victory in 2006, his third career win, but once again Alonso was out of touch. Fisichella’s sole win came at Sepang on a day when Alonso was compromised by problems in qualifying, and at the end of the season the score read 134-72.

In his defence Fisichella claimed to have gotten closer to Alonso on pure pace but as I wrote at the time that didn’t quite ring true.

Rookie Heikki Kovalainen saw him off in 2007 and Fisichella was dropped by Renault. He ‘returned’ to Force India, formerly Jordan, his team of 1997 and 2002-3.

Back at the tail end of the grid Fisichella seems to have resumed the role he was born for in F1 – squeezing the best out of uncompetitive cars. The team were delighted with his 12th place finish in Bahrain, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s ailing McLaren, Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, Sebastien Bourdais’s Toro Rosso and others.

This is how he spent much of his early career, first at Minardi, then Jordan, Benetton, back at Jordan, and then Sauber before the big move to Renault.

Has Fisichella blown his chance of being a front runner?

Giancarlo Fisichella biography