Giancarlo Fisichella was at the centre of attention yesterday afternoon in the Spa paddock, being photographed and interviewed left right and centre.
This is because the odds are shortening all the time on him driving a Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix next month and for the remaining races until Felipe Massa comes back. Exactly when that might be will become clearer this weekend as Massa will get a definitive opinion from racing medical guru Steve Olvey in Florida. By Monday the Ferrari team will know if Massa will race again this season. Then they can assess Luca Badoer’s performance this weekend in Spa and make a decision. Massa and his doctors in Brazil continue to peddle the bullish line that he will race in his home Grand Prix.
Ferrari made an emotional decision when they gave Badoer the opportunity in Valencia and even his closest friends would say it was embarrassing. But they felt have to give him this weekend to show what he can do on a track he knows after having had the chance to drive the car for a weekend in Spain.
Now they need a pragmatic decision. They need someone who is certain to score points in the second car and young drivers are not guaranteed to do that, while they are learning.
I spoke to a few team members yesterday and they are mindful of the fact that giving a young driver a race outing in a Ferrari, especially at Monza, is such an immense psychological pressure, few could handle it.
So if Badoer isn’t up to it, the roads are starting to lead to Fisichella. It would take some negotiating to extricate himself from the Force India contract, but as this may well be the end of Fisi’s F1 career anyway, something might be possible.
“For sure, it’s a dream for all the drivers,” Fisichella said. “Especially for me, as an Italian driver, let’s say at the end of my career, so it’s a very good opportunity. It would be nice.
“I have 220 grands prix so far, it would be very good pressure for me. It’s not a big problem, it would be a very good opportunity but so far I can’t say anymore.”
There is no more to say at the moment, because there isn’t yet a vacancy. We will see on Monday whether that situation changes.