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Montezemolo: “Fisichella deserves it”
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Montezemolo: “Fisichella deserves it”
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Sep 2009   |  8:42 am GMT  |  49 comments

On the Ferrari official website president Luca di Montezemolo has spoken about the reasons why he – eventually – chose Giancarlo Fisichella to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa.

Fisi reunited with ex Jordan pal Rob Smedley

Fisi reunited with ex Jordan pal Rob Smedley

“I chose Fisichella for several reasons, starting with the fact he deserves it, that he’s on great form and that he is an expert driver,” he said. “On top of that, we all wanted to have an Italian driver in our car for Monza and lastly, because it takes the long term view, as he will be our third driver.”

“It is an important moment, coming off the back of a great win with Kimi Raikkonen. We also have the good and important news that Felipe Massa is recovering well and will be more than ready for the first race of next season. I wish to thank Luca Badoer who, once again has been so amenable towards Ferrari. Therefore, I look forward to Monza with confidence and especially with great pleasure at having Fisichella in the team.”

Fisichella will be engineered by Rob Smedley, with whom he worked at Jordan in 2002 and 2003. Fisichella won his first Grand Prix in Brazil 2003.

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49 Comments
  1. hamilton fan says:

    It’s tough time for Ferrari.
    Fisichella has only scored 3 gp victories in his lengthy career.
    I personally would rate the driver pairs for Ferrari from the best to the worst in this order
    alonso&kubica
    alonso&kimi
    kimi&fisichella

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Of the drivers in those pairings, Raikkonen and Kubica would be the biggest bundle of skill.

      Alonso, IMO, is overrated. He reportedly has technical savvy, but he’s not as consistent as everyone says (remember 2007?) and is behind others in terms of particular driving skills. (Raw pace, car control, etc.) His two championships were greatly enabled by the fact that Flavio Briatore clearly anointed him the number one driver and gave him unquestioning and unending support from day one, as Briatore basically staked his reputation and ego on Alonso after very outspokenly dumping Button for him. He even went as far as to dump Trulli from the team in the year when he won Monaco and was LEADING Alonso in points. The common failures on pit stops for Fisichella vs. the flawless pit stops Renault always seemed to give Alonso symbolize the level to which Alonso was emphasized and Fisi wasn’t within the team.

      I wouldn’t rank Alonso in my top-5, which are (no particular order):

      Top-3

      Hamilton
      Vettel
      Raikkonen

      Scratch Below

      Kubica
      Webber

  2. luca says:

    It strikes me as funny that on the very day that Chelsea FC are told they face a severe penalty for irregular player transfers, a dominant F1 team like Ferrari can poach a competitive driver from a 1-podium outfit like Force India and it’s a “feelgood” story. And smack bang in the middle of a racing season to boot!

    Don’t get me wrong. I am chuffed for Fisi and I am sure it will be a blast to many of my compatriots to see a native in the red car (heck if they can vote for Berlusconi, they are clearly easily entertained). But it shows again what a very odd “sport” this Formula 1 business really is.

    So while my Italian roots might delight for Fisi the person, my heart beats Bollywood and is suitably disappointed for Mr Mallya and his emerging outfit. I will definitely root Force India when Monza comes around.

    1. James says:

      I guess the key difference with this story is that Fisi and his manager held talks with Force India, who in turned allow him out of the contract. I dont think Vijay Mallaya has any hard feelings about this.

      In one sense, this could be a massive help for Force India in the sense that Vijay can look at next season’s line up (i.e. Mallaya could give Chandok or Kartikayen a drive in one of the five remaining races).

      1. James,

        On the note, what do you make on Karun Chandok? I’ve been watching GP2 for the last few years and I’m still not convinced that he has “it”.

      2. James Allen says:

        Lovely bloke, has driven some strong races, especially last year

      3. Martin Collyer says:

        ‘Karun Chandok … I’m still not convinced that he has “it”.’

        I’m fairly convinced that Chandok has not got “it”. Currently 18th on 10 points, 73 adrift of Hulkenberg, last year he was 10th on 31 points, 45 adrift of Pantano.

        Kartikayen has practically disappeared into oblivion, India 12th in A1GP last year. Kartikayen’s best results were a second at Brands, a couple of sixth’s and some 7th’s 10th’s etc.

        Force India are now doing OK by employing ‘proper’ drivers, it would be silly to squander that progress.

      4. Silas Denyer says:

        The point still stands, however; this is – at one level – “fixing”. I might have placed a bet on Force India for the season, for instance, based upon my assessment of the relative merits of the drivers (and, of course, my view of the probability of their being injured). If the team allows its best driver to leave, my punt is devalued.

        In many other sports, such moves would be outlawed. Those are sports where the existence of betting is seen as important, and where the interests of punters are protected in the wider interests of the sport.

        I also think it is an odd choice for Fisi on rational grounds; can one seriously imagine him being allowed to outshine Kimi (if he is able to)?

      5. James says:

        “If the team allows its best driver to leave, my punt is devalued.”

        The moral of the sotry would be don’t go betting then, wouldn’t it?

        Fisi was chosen because Ferrari needed someone to race for the rest of this year, but also carry on as a reserve/test/third driver for next season. Ferrari therefore could not really recruit Liuzzi or anyone else because that person could then go back to which ever team with many Ferrari’s secrets, and there is then the risk that a similar scanadal to that of 2007 occuring.

        I don’t see this as a fixing to be honest. Vijay Mallaya knew that given the chance, Fisichella would have wanted to do this. At least Fisichella has the chance to end his F1 racing career with a better chance of scoring highly with Ferrari.

      6. Martin Collyer says:

        ‘In many other sports, such moves would be outlawed. Those are sports where the existence of betting is seen as important, and where the interests of punters are protected in the wider interests of the sport’.

        This sounds like horse-racing or greyhound-racing to me Silas, maybe there are others where ‘punters are protected’.

        F1 is not one of them, betting is a side issue.

        The main point here is, ‘Do the F1 regs allow driver changes mid-season?’ The answer to that appears to be ‘Yes’, if that upsets people who want to place ‘season-long bets’, too bad really, they need to take account of that when placing the bet.

      7. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        I’ve got to think Liuzzi is a stronger choice for the Force India seat than Chandhok or Karthi.

  3. Lady Snowcat says:

    Rob must be very relieved…

    Interesting choice of words by di Montezemolo here don’t you think?… talking about an Italian driver when Badoer was….Hmmm….

    I think he also means Italian and expansive….

    His words on Kimi’s win aren’t exactly fulsome and he may just be indicating that they want a driver who shows their passion for Ferrari rather than the very cool Kimi who just wants to drive the car….

    I am not sure that the Italians “get” Kimi whilst those that wear their heart on their sleeves like Felipe and Giancarlo are something they recognise…

    And although Michael was German his leaps of joy on winning and enthusiasm for Ferrari were probably seen as the very best anyone could hope for in the “Latino enthusiasm” stakes….

  4. Matt Preston says:

    I’m presuming that this move, coupled with the fact that Liuzzi will be driving for Force India next season means Fisi was thinking of retiring anyway and will hang up his helmet at the end of this season.

    I’ve never really rated him as a driver if I’m honest. Patchy form even with the best of cars but this move to Ferrari, an Italian team, with Italian driver, at the Italian Grand Prix…. It does sound great doesn’t it and I’m not even a Ferrari fan!

  5. Ray.C. says:

    Talk about a feelgood story,(lump in throat stuff). The next best thing to Schu…maybe even better considering Fisi’s from the current grid.

    For what it’s worth…I was recently asked by a non-F1 fan, who I thought was the best F1 driver? I rambled on about how it’s an impossible question to answer for various reasons…they cut me short and said “if you were a team boss and you could have anyone on the grid, who would you take, in less than a beat I said Lewis Hamilton.

    Maybe one day we’ll see Lewis in red…hope so.

  6. Finn says:

    Seems that Fisi’s racing career is over after this stint at Ferrari … a reserve driver from 2010.

    Would be interesting to see what would happen if Fisi won the last 5 races …. though that’s not likely to happen.

    If Fisi is their third driver for next year and Ferrari have been talking about running 3 cars …
    (1) maybe his racing days really aren’t over.
    (2) maybe Schumi’s racing days really are over.

  7. So this shuffle means that when Ferrari ditch Raikkonen, Massa is No. 1, Schumacher No.2 (in time for his neck to heal) and Fisi No.3 ? What do you think James?

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      You’ve forgotten someone. Alonso will be N° 1, Massa N° 2, Schu N° 3 (don’t tell him …) and Fisi N° 4.

  8. Paul Mc says:

    I’ll have my fingers crossed for Fisi at Monza. KERS will have a huge impact at the start with the long run in to turn 1. Fisi might be able to get revenge on Kimi for Spa.

    Reading his comments Fisi is like a kid in a candy shop. You don’t often hear F1 drivers speaking about living the dream.

    1. Silas Denyer says:

      Hamilton was an exception, too, in his first season. Button was pretty pleased at the start of this one, too. I agree; it is great to see.

  9. Z-man says:

    Fantastic! If Fisi can get to grips with the Ferrari both in the simulator and in practice I think he will give Kimi a run for his money. Cant want to see how it pans out!

    1. Martin Collyer says:

      ‘…he will give Kimi a run for his money’.

      I’d be surprised if you are right about that, Fisi should do OK but Kimi is in good form right now.

  10. Chris says:

    I’m amazed by Ferrari’s confused ‘Easter Bunny’ strategy of meandering around the pit lane (past and present) in search of a replacement driver for the injured Massa.

    Yes, Fisichella seems to be the correct choice for the unfortunately vacant slot, but after the Badoer (or as CNN called him – ‘Spadoer’) fiasco, they have left themselves with a rather rambling, confused picture of the management there.

    I understand the Badoer rationale on a human level, but one only has to look at the nosecone, or a rear wing of the Ferrari to see the magnitude of their corporate obligations, and how their management decisions have had a deleterious effect on the Ferrari brand.

  11. Lephturn says:

    I’m going to say the real reason is “We’re pretty sure Fisi won’t embarrass us like Luca did.”

    Good for Fisi – and not a bad move by Ferrari, but I would rather have seen them pick up a young guy and give him a chance.

  12. Sam98 says:

    Great news for Fisi and Ferrari, but I can’t help thinking this is going to help Jenson too.

    Yet again Ferrari have consigned Rubens to second place in the Championship!

  13. Jay says:

    Interesting: “third driver”, and not reserve/test driver. Wasn’t there something in the 2010 regs where teams could use a 3rd driver instead of one of their two main drivers on a Friday practice session. Would Fisi have a more visible role in the team in these practise sessions to help develop the car? Though I can’t imagine teams would want to give time away in one of the cars too often when the driver using the time wouldn’t even be racing in the grand prix that weekend. Just a thought as I’d hate to see Fisi virtually disappear from f1.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      Good question. James, what will the third driver actually do in 2010 ?

      1. The third driver at most teams is also the reserve/test driver. Ferrari needs the distinction because it has two testers, only one of which can be the reserve driver at any given time.

      2. Grabyrdy says:

        What I’m trying to find out is whether there’s any change in the rules for 2010. This year, the testers tested before the season, then spent the rest of the year, yes, eating pasta – barring accidents of course. Is there going to be a mid-season testing window in 2010 ? Are 3rd drivers going to have anything to do on Fridays ? Personally I thought it was really interesting having the young guys pounding round on Fridays, and it was obviously good for them too.

      3. James Allen says:

        Not as far as I know. The testing restrictions for next year are even more prohibitive than this year

  14. Red Kimi says:

    great job Ferrari getting Fisi on board….

    Good to see Luca praise my boy Kimi for his win as well…. Now I just need him to say the driver line-up is the same for next year and I can sleep easy

  15. Fede says:

    Domenicali said “we chose Fisichella …”.
    Now di Montezemolo specifies that’s been him chosing the driver.
    I wonder what kind of autonomous decision making is Domenicali allowed to have.

  16. Tom says:

    Would he “deserve this” if he hadn’t just had his best race in four or five years?

    He’s a decent driver, but he had the chance to prove himself at Renault in 05 and 06 and blew it – people seem to think this is his first chance in a competitive car.

    1. Paul Mc says:

      I think thats the gamble with Fisi. Alonso destroyed him at Renault. At every race Fisi had a car that could win and he failed to prove himself as a consistent race winner. Maybe because its Ferrari he might step up to the level he should have been at when he was at Renault.

      Ferrari really need him to score heavily and score consistently.

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        Briatore basically staked his reputation and ego on Alonso. He very outspokenly dumped Button for him and was proclaiming him the next great one since day one, and he kept promoting him as the future of Renault even when Alonso was driving erratically and inconsistently early on. He even dumped Trulli in 2004 after he had gotten his first career win in Monaco and was BEATING Alonso in points.

        All of this, in addition to the fact that Briatore has openly said he believes in and practices the “number one, number two” system, makes it quite clear that to believe Alonso and Fisichella were competing on a level playing field at Renault is naive. Fisi was, without a doubt, Alonso’s Barrichello, just as Nelsinho Piquet was and Briatore wanted Trulli to be.

        Fisi has, time and again, done a fabulous job in less-than-stellar equipment. To look at his performance in Spa as a one-off for this season is incorrect. He’s consistently wrestled great performances out of the Force India and finished ahead of drivers in stronger cars, and he’s threatened for points a number of times this year before delivering in Spa. He’s always been a very skilled driver, and he still has plenty left in the tank.

        He shouldn’t be the Third Driver at Ferrari next year. If he has a strong finish to the season, he’d be capable of landing a race seat with some good teams. If Barrichello can still win at his age, then so can Fisi.

  17. Graeme says:

    And who would have thought Alonso and Fisi back in a the same team again :)

  18. Stevie P says:

    “Deserves” – that’s an odd word to use, in what way does Fisi deserve it? Oh, I see… because he did a poor re-start and gave Kimi a tow upto Les Combes… right, now I see why he “deserves” it ;-)

    On a serious note: Fisi’s coming to the end of his F1 career. I think it’s great that he gets to bow out driving a Ferrari (Who wouldn’t like a go in a scarlet car!?). Plus, Liuzzi gets promoted to a race seat (a reward for his patience too). Forza Fisi! :-)

    1. Silas Denyer says:

      Oh dear, in the same week we here about the hearing into Renault’s alleged shenanigans, you’re not really suggesting that somebody had a quiet word with Fisi and said “if you find a way to let Kimi through, we’ll give you the drive”, are you? :)

      1. Stevie P says:

        Oh, no… never! ;-)

  19. Kirk says:

    He deserves it – isn’t that what LDM also said about Luca Bad-oer?!?

  20. john says:

    On a separate note,it seems Button can win the title without making even a podium place in the future races!
    James you have seen a lot of F1 but do you remember somebody winning the title just thanks to the great advatage gained during the first half of the season?

    1. Does Mika Hakkinen in 1999 count (ironically because Schuey got injured – in the No.3 Ferrari)?

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  22. Madhu says:

    Looks to me a perfect move by ferrari. The lack of his normal praise for kimi(after a series of podiums) and certainity in his words that massa will drive in 2010 sounds to me like ferrari has made up their mind on 2010 driver line up. I certainly think now its going to be Massa and Alonso and if by any chance Massa is not ready, Fisi will step up. I hope kimi joins Mclaren now!

    Any thoughts james? You have been hinting at this for a long time now i think.

  23. Lem says:

    Fisi seems to shine with independent teams (Sauber, Jordan, Force India). It’s also unfair to criticize his time with Renault or Benetton.

    Flavio Briatore is well known for favoring his star drivers. It’s pretty obvious Alonso & Schuey we’re pampered under his guidance. And we can’t deny that both drivers carry an immense amount of talent, along with multiple WDC’s.

    But at the same time, we can’t deny that a majority of team resources and blatant favoritism by Briatore was a detriment to 2nd drivers on the team. Fisichella, Herbert, Letho, Verstappen, Irvine & Barrichello are just mere victims.

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Schumacher was an immense talent. I just can’t agree on Alonso; I wouldn’t even rank him in the top-5 of today’s drivers.

      1. James Allen says:

        Totally disagree with you there and so would any professional working in F1 today.

  24. Warren says:

    Luca – “He deserves it” Bull S!*t.
    Luca – “We were desperate!”

  25. Dermot Keelan says:

    I totally agree with your point about Kimi’s apparent lack of passion for the Ferrari brand/image or whatever..but, for the best driver of his generation (which Kimi unquestionably is IMO) to be turfed out of the team for next season would be a disgrace…Kimi has really staked a claim for driver of the year with his performance in the last 4/5 races and if he can keep punching above the cars weight for the rest of the year then Ferrari would be insane to drop him.
    Since the scuderia are supposedly in the process of developing an all-conquering motor for 2010 maybe Kimi is worth an early punt for the WDC…with the uncertainty surrounding ferrari atm you could prob get nice odds on that one!!

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