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Interview - Fisichella relishing Force India challenge 29 Feb 2008

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, 14 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01 and Colin Kolles (GER) Force India F1 Team Principal Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 27 February 2008. World © Moy/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 26 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, 14 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton (L-R) Shilpa Shetty (IND), Indian film actress and model, Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 and Shamita Shetty (IND). Force India F1 Team Livery Launch. 6-7 February 2008. Mumbai, India. World © Moy/Sutton

Over his 13 year-long Formula One career Giancarlo Fisichella has raced for five teams and won four races. With that depth of experience, Fisichella is a valuable asset for any squad but he picked the grid’s youngest, Force India, on his departure from Renault at the end of 2007. It is certain to be a challenge but one that the Italian is already relishing…

Q: You are taking on a new challenge with Force India. What are your thoughts on this season?
Giancarlo Fisichella:
It's a fantastic project, and they have nearly double the budget of last year. The wind tunnel is running 24 hours a day and they are already looking at 2009. There is Mike Gascoyne, there is Mark Smith, people with a lot of experience who are very focused on this job. So I believe in this project. I think it's going to be difficult at the beginning of the season, and maybe again we're going to be in the last couple of rows. But we can make a big step forward from now until the end of the season, and especially for 2009. So far we've done a few tests and we've already made a step. The car balance was better and the set-up much better. The car has good potential. It’s very promising.

Q: When did you start thinking about a future with the team?
GF:
It was quite late, end of November, something like that. They asked me to test in Jerez. It was important to have a good test and work well with the engineers, and give them a good direction. I think I did a very good job, and that’s the reason why they took me. I was impressed quite a lot by them, and it was good for me because it’s the third time going back under the same roof! I was comfortable and confident straight away with the guys.

Q: So you really feel at home here?
GF:
Yes, some of the mechanics are still here from 1997. When you move to a new team everything is new and you need time to be comfortable, and it wasn't like that.

Q: Do you feel that you can have more input than you would have at a bigger team?
GF:
Yes, for sure they believe in me, they listen to what I have to say. They are really happy to work with me. We are going in the right direction. The pressure is much less for sure than at somewhere like Renault, but at Renault you are just a driver, while here I also feel part of the staff.

Q: Are you happy to have a Ferrari engine behind you?
GF:
I already used a Ferrari engine in 2004 with Sauber, and there are a couple of guys around who worked with Petronas. It's good, it's a very strong engine, a very reliable engine. It's another reason why I signed the contract.

Q: Do you think the team can make real progress with the new rules in 2009?
GF:
They are already working in the wind tunnel on the 2009 car, and it will be very interesting with the new rules, especially as they reduce the grip, the downforce of the car, quite a lot. I think we can do well.

Q: Do you see yourself staying with the team as it improves over the next few seasons?
GF:
At the moment it's two years, and then we'll see. I’m really focused now on this season. My motivation is to do well in the second part of the season, and to grow up with the team.