Sunday, 13 September 2009

Fisi & Ferrari: Sweet dream or beautiful nightmare?


As he sat in the cockpit of the F60 for the first time to have his seat fitted, Giancarlo Fisichella must have thought that Christmas and his birthday had all come at once. This was his childhood dream. Ever since he’d began his racing career, he’d longed to drive for Ferrari, to become one of the prestigious list of people who had driven for the Prancing Horse. He got a chance to test a 412T2 at Mugello in 1995, the last of the screaming V12 Ferrari F1 cars. Then came the call-up to Minardi a year later. After driving for Jordan, Benetton, Jordan again, Sauber, Renault and Force India, he finally got his wish.

His stunning performance in the VJM02 to take pole and finish 2nd two weeks ago at Spa simply blew the entire F1 paddock away. No-one had expected the ex-Jordan, Midland and Spyker team to be in contention for the race win, let alone pole position. Had it not been for Raikkonen’s KERS-shod Ferrari, he probably would have won it regarding how Fisi managed to stay on his rear wing for practically the whole race. It was enough for Luca di Montezemolo to make the call and ask him to step up as replacement to the replacement to Massa, Luca Badoer.

Fast forward to yesterday’s qualifying session and we find ourselves asking the question: was it the right thing to do? Was moving to Ferrari, despite it being a lifelong dream, really the right step for his career, especially at this point in the season? The Force India is at its strongest on low downforce circuits such as Spa and Monza, and this was proven by Adrian Sutil and Fisi’s replacement Vitantonio Liuzzi. Adrian almost had pole but was denied by a hard-charging Lewis Hamilton, while Tonio impressed many on his first race weekend since 2007 by planting himself 7th on the grid for the race. Giancarlo, meanwhile? 14th. Go figure.

Had he elected to stay with FI, it could have been 2 poles in a row for him. But, while he lives out the ambition which he so desperately wanted all his career, the minnows he left behind don’t seem to be missing him all that much. Development work is always continuing at Force India this season. Ferrari have halted theirs to focus on 2010. Mainly the reason why Fisi seems to be so off the pace is the simple fact of a lack of testing. With the in-season ban, he had to use Friday and Saturday morning to learn the car. An off at the Parabolica yesterday morning didn’t help matters, but the car was thankfully rebuilt. Still, he has a hard slog ahead of him on home soil tomorrow if he’s a chance at points.

The guy has pace, no doubt about that. It’s like any good driver. Give him a good car and he’ll do well. Right now, while the F60 is still a capable machine, there are better mounts out there such as the Brawn, McLaren and indeed Force India, all Mercedes-powered cars I might add. With no development work going on on this car at all now, it does seem to be hurting Ferrari, but with the focus on next season, perhaps a return to form in 2010 is the main priority right now. Certainly seems that way. Can’t deny though, he’s a hell of a lot better than that Badoer. Ugh…

Personally, I feel that as long as Giancarlo’s happy, then I’m happy. He’s got what he wants, so let him be. Besides, if he doesn’t get a race drive next season, he’s still Ferrari’s reserve driver, so expect to see him pounding out the testing mileage during the winter. I’m sure his experience will be as invaluable to Maranello as it was to Force India. But you have to admit – you’d certainly feel the weight of expectation from the Tifosi on your shoulders out on track, wouldn’t you?


MichaelK (mini696) said...

Agree with your view Scott (as long as Fisi is "'appy", then so am I.

I never rated Fisi as a spectacular driver, and personally I think he is on his way out of F1... So why not grab this opertunity.

Everyone has their goals in F1... First pole, First win, Championship etc. Fisi has those (bar the championship... and I never saw him a WDC material). One of Fisi's goals was to drive for Ferari, and in the twilight of his career he has achieved that.

Good on him.

Keep up the good work Scott.

Jorge Vazquez said...

I think that if every pilot have dreams of racing in a F1 car, they would visualize themself on a red Ferrari. For Fisi it has been lots of years of struggle and living his dream is more important to him right now than waiting to see if things go fine at FI.
Beside there is a long list on the 2010 Ferrari wish list; perhaps he gets lucky again!
Good job on your blog