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A race weekend with… Giancarlo Fisichella 27 Mar 2008

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 on the grid.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 (L to R): Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team, Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 21 March 2008 Grid girl for Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 22 March 2008

After 12 years in Formula One, Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella is an old pro when it comes to his race routine. Indeed, with his level experience, some of the younger racers could probably do well to listen to his advice.

We caught up with him in Malaysia - a race he won a couple of years back - to get a few tips on the calendar’s top nightlife, his favourite places to stay, and the best ways to beat the airport queues after racing…

Q: What do you associate with Malaysia?
Giancarlo Fisichella:
The Pan Pacific! (closest hotel to the track where everybody hopes to stay) I am just joking! Of course my win in 2006 - one of the best days of my entire Formula One career.

Q: You don’t take to the track until Friday morning, but when do you like to fly in?
GF:
A couple of days before to acclimatise to the heat and the humidity. Sepang is one of the most stressful races of the calendar.

Q: What’s your advice for dealing with jetlag? Or is that not a problem when you fly first class?
GF:
Arrive at least two days in advance. Drink plenty of fluids - sleep a lot and eat sensibly. First class sure helps!

Q: Are you an active tourist when you attend races, or do you stick to the usual airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
GF:
I am not the tourist kind of guy, so my race weekend procedure indeed is: airport-hotel-circuit - and return.

Q: What’s your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
GF:
Sure it makes a difference whether it is 35 degrees in the shade and 90 percent humidity. You still work out, but the focus is clearly on stabilise the body.

Q: What’s your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?
GF:
Nearest hotel to the circuit. A motorhome would be a clear preference but the costs of around Euro 250,000 per year I consider too high.

Q: Anything you have to have provided in your hotel room, or are there any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
GF:
I always only travel with a carry-on, so the hotel provides me with everything necessary: toiletries, bits and pieces that I find in my room.

Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
GF:
My management looks after friends and family - I concentrate 100 percent on my job!

Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialise on Friday and Saturday night?
GF:
Friday and Saturday are off limits. Sunday night is for partying - if there is something to celebrate.

Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
GF:
There’s always not enough time, but if there is then with Fernando (Alonso), Robert (Kubica), Tonio (Liuzzi) and Rubens (Barrichello).

Q: Your favourite race for nightlife?
GF:
Montreal, plain and simple!

Q: What’s the best night out you’ve had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
GF:
Montreal in 2004 when I finished fourth with Sauber. I went to bed at 7am!

Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
GF:
Fresh fruit - like every day.

Q: How much do you drink - and what - over a race weekend? Especially when the temperature is 35 degrees Celsius?
GF:
As much as I can - I can trust that my body gives me the signals.

Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
GF:
I arrive at the track at the last possible minute - just before the strategy meeting with the team. I always drive myself.

Q: How do spend the morning on race Sunday?
GF:
After promotional stuff I like to relax in my room, use my computer and, when the countdown is on, have a last chat with my engineers.

Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
GF:
Snoozing! No rituals and no superstitions!

Q: Do you have a lucky charm?
GF:
No.

Q: What do you do to stay calm as you’re sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
GF:
After 12 years in Formula One you don’t have that kind of emotion anymore.

Q: How do you wind down after the race?
GF:
Plenty of sleep.

Q: If things don’t go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
GF:
I usually speak with the engineers to analyse the race, then I speak with the media, then I am off.