Exclusive Fisichella Q&A: Ive been promised a competitive package 28 Nov 2008
Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. After zero points in 2008, Force India owner Vijay Mallya has made a shrewd move in signing a technical partnership with McLaren-Mercedes for 2009.
Its raised the probability of the team fielding a competitive car - and its certainly raised the spirits of veteran driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who insists he has a waterproof contract for next season, despite recent rumours to the contrary
Q: Giancarlo, 2008 was a tough season for you, probably the toughest of your entire Formula One career. What do you take away from those 18 races?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I knew it was going to be tough and no promises were made to me at the beginning. The plan was to build up the future of the team and genuinely I had no big expectations, so I can say I am not disappointed, especially with my own performance.
Q: The team had experienced technical people on board, yet still failed to score. Was the car so difficult to handle?
GF: We did not have a competitive car, that is all. Twice we were in the points - Adrian (Sutil) in Monaco and I was eighth in Brazil, but twice we did not score and that is not because of driver errors.
Q: Two weeks ago team owner Dr Vijay Mallya made a drastic management reshuffle and announced a partnership with McLaren-Mercedes from 2009. What does that mean for the teams drivers?
GF: The partnership is our biggest step towards finding competitiveness in the future. Vijay is building on a solid platform and going forward, so that Adrian and I are given a real chance to perform.
Q: There has been a great deal of speculation that your race seat might not be certain for next season. What is your contract situation?
GF: I originally signed a two-year contract which was reviewed in September to incorporate the McLaren deal. In a few words, the team offered me a better car and a different package. I accepted their proposal and both sides signed the new document between Singapore and China. This is why Dr Mallya made the announcement in Shanghai.
Q: McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa drove the VJM01 for two days at last weeks Barcelona test, prompting rumours of a change in Force Indias driver line-up. Some have suggested that De la Rosa is just a stool pigeon and that Paul di Resta is your real rival for the seat. How do you see that?
GF: The only thing I know is that in September we were told that Pedro could test and we could not say before it was made official so I was not at all surprised. As for the rest - I am not really interested in F1 gossip!
Q: As the VJM02 will be a completely different car, what program did you run at last weeks Barcelona test? What data could be of use for next season?
GF: In Barcelona we took advantage of running the last mileage with the Ferrari engine to do a tyre test. It was more a test for the drivers than for the car.
Q: The team indicated that they will not test again until the 2009 car, complete with McLaren components, is available, quite possibly not until March. What will that mean for your pre-season preparations?
GF: A long holiday but I will try to make the most of it by training hard.
Q: Should you stay with Force India, what do you expect from this cooperation with a world championship-winning team?
GF: A competitive package, thats all I want and what I have been promised. And that is a very good reason to drive for the team in 2009.
Q: Have Force India indicated to you when they will announce their definitive driver line-up for 2009? And do you have a plan B should they decide against you?
GF: The line-up has been announced in China in October by Vijay, and I trust people who trust me.