Giancarlo Fisichella: the driver debates

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

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19 comments on Giancarlo Fisichella: the driver debates

  1. Seb Carter said on 10th April 2008, 0:05

    Fisichella is the type of drivers F1 needs if you ask me. There have been many instances in the past where fast, raw and inexperienced drivers have come into the sport, be it with any type of team, and maybe on a few occasions proved that they have the stuff it takes. But then they also have those moments where they just throw it all away and cause accidents or problems. eg Massa a few years ago. However, with Fisi here, he manages to get into a car (inferior though they are) and use all his experience to get the best out of it day in, day out. You know with Fisi that you are going to get a man who will do the best he can every time he gets in the car, and he will use his experience to provide us with good racing instead of chaotic racing. Yes he is not perfect, as he showed at renault, and he probably wont get the chance to win the championship again, but i still rate him as a driver.

  2. theRoswellite said on 10th April 2008, 17:02

    200 hundred Grand Prix starts…..and a GP winner.

    The man has shown real speed and talent over his career, and seems to have functioned very professionally in numerous teams.

    Is he one of the very few, the very top drivers…..no.  He has had the opportunity with Renault, but was unable to reach that very top group.

    As with most drivers who have been able to sustain a long career in F1, his speed has certainly diminished some over the years.

    Certainly we should be able to applaud his talent as we have enjoyed his efforts on so many Sundays, and any "problems" we have with him may be more a reflection of our own unrealistic assessment of what being a Grand Prix driver is all about.

  3. hoshiyar said on 11th April 2008, 12:23

    i can see that everyone is very sympathetic towards fisico… well the stats tell a very different story. though stats can be misleading, they generally point in the right direction.
     fisico once even stated that he could pay for a seat at ferrari…but we all know ferrari never considered him…he’s a good driver but not a fast one.. and with f1 speed is everything.. that is the reason why we see him do a good job with slower cars.. its as simple as handling a real fast car…fisico cant and hence often remains in midfield…but he might just be the right stepping stone for force india..but sutil.. i dont know what mr. sorry DR mallya is thinking..

  4. James Steventon said on 20th April 2008, 18:22

    To be honest, I was surprised that Force India took Fisichella on for 2008. Yes, he is vastly experienced, but I had my money on him taking a more subtle approach, maybe as test driver like Alex Wurz.
    He could help develop the car, use his knowledge that way, and allow the team to race somebody younger next to Sutil. Christian Klein would, possibly have been a good bet. He has had F1 experience, and would surely relish the opportunity to race again.
    Fisichella, much in the same way as Ralf Schumacher, has had plenty of years in which to make a mark for himself. He, like Schumacher Jnr, has driven for some great teams with fast cars, yet, like Schumacher Jnr, never set the world alight.
    He was the perfect team mate for Alonso at Renault. He had the knowledge and experience to help with the car and its development, but not the sheer speed and drive in which to cause Alonso any persistent problems.
    Abit like Coulthard to Mika Hakkinen, or Montoya to Raikkonen. Chances, real chances, don’t come along in F1 very often, and Fisichella is a lucky boy at Force India.
     Good luck to him, in what must surely be his last years in F1.  

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