Giancarlo Fisichella has been a veteran of the Formula1 Circuit. He made his Formula1 debut way back in 1996, for the Minardi team. Since then, Fisichella has participated in over 12 consecutive FIA Formula One World Championships with three victories and almost 300 points to his credit.
He started his career in Karting, way back in 1984. For about 7 seasons, he took part in a number of Karting championships including the Italian Minicart Championships, the Italian Cadets Championships and the International Class Karting Championships. After 7 long years of Karts, in 1992, ‘Fisico’ got the opportunity to participate in the Italian Formula3 Championships. He finished his first season at 8th place and his year included a victory at the Imola circuit. His next season was much better as he came second in the championships and progress was strong in 1994 as he became the champion of the Italian Formula3 series. He won 10 races, and had a total of 18 podium finishes.
He was getting closer to Formula1 and his second place at the DTM-ITC races as well as the 2nd place in the Motor Show Challenge, in 1995, ensured that he became the test driver for the Formula1 team, Minardi. In 1996, he went one step ahead and became the test driver for Ferrari. He took part in the Bologna F1 Supersprint with Benetton and won it while finishing 6th in the ITC championships. But all this came after his big moment. In 1996, Minardi offered Fisichella a seat for the Formula1 season. However, after just 8 races, Minardi replaced Fisichella with Giovanni Lavaggi as they need a driver who was capable of bringing funds into the team. After being replaced, Fisichella went to the Bologna F1 Supersprint and the ITC championships. His performances were eye-catching enough for Eddie Jordan who brought Fisichella into the team in 1997, alongside Ralf Schumacher. Fisichella earned 20 points in the season and ended up in 8th place. His 8th position did include two podium finishes which hinted at the ability that lay within this incredible Italian.
Benetton signed Fisichella for 1998. This almost proved fatal for his career as he didn’t have the machinery to perform at his best. Benetton had lost their engine once Renault backed out of the sport and so, Fisichella was left to drive around in old development-version engines from the 1997 season.
In 1999, the following year, Giancarlo Fisichella again failed to impress and could only manage 9th place overall, with just 13 points. But in 2000, things began to change. Some surprise podium finishes ensured that the Italian finished at 6th place with18 points in the season. Renault returned to Benetton in the 2001 season but for Fisichella, the new season didn’t bring much joy. He ended the season in 11th place with just 8 points to his credit. Things were going downhill for Fisichella and he switched to the Jordan team in 2002. The car added to his woes as he managed to score just 7 points in an unreliable car that was barely competitive.
Things looked up a bit in 2003 when Fisichella managed to score his maiden Formula1 win on a wet and incident filled race at Interlagos, Brazil. Despite numerous crashes and a tight battle with Raikkonen’s McLaren, Fisico came out on top. The overall season didn’t have that much change though, as Fisichella finished at 12th spot. He went to Sauber for 2004 and managed to gain 22 points on his way to the 11th spot.
Despite the poor points’ tally, everyone knew that it was mainly due to the car that Fisichella was having poor results and so, in 2005, Flavio Briatore came calling for the Italian to play second fiddle to a young Spaniard, Fernando Alonso.
Almost instantly, with a change in cars, there was a change in his fortunes. Results started coming out of his more powerful, more reliable car as he raked in 58 points with 4 podium finishes including a race win, on his way to 5th place in the World Drivers’ Championships. He was just moving from strength to strength and in 2006, things just got better.
He won the season opener in Melbourne and then went on to grab 5 podium finishes to come fourth in the drivers’ standings with a massive 72 points. It was Alonso though who took the spotlight away from Fisichella in these two years as he won two back-to-back drivers’ titles. Alonso’s departure to McLaren in 2007 made Fisico the lead for the season and despite many high hopes, he just managed eighth place in a season riddled with disappointments.
Heikki Kovalainen was much quicker than the veteran in 2007 and that marked the last stages of Fisichella’s stint at Renault. He was forced to resign at the end of the season and that brought him to 2008 with the Force India Formula1 team. The Dutch-India outfit will be making its debut in 2008 and his experience will be incredibly helpful for the team as well as team mate Adrian Sutil.
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