As a veteran of 181 races to date, Giancarlo Fisichella has recently spoken of his long term goals regarding his Formula One career. While the Renault he is driving is not performing well, many critics have been suggesting that this is the final year we will see the Italian driver on the F1 grid. Renault boss and fellow Italian Flavio Briatore has been critical of both his drivers, but has also mentioned that the team cannot fight for the title this year, as the car is too far behind the Ferrari and McLaren. Does this failure to perform rest on Fisichella’s shoulders, or is it equally balanced with the team? If Renault can answer this question, then maybe they will know better what to do with their drivers.
Before the season began in March of 2007, many people were furiously speculating how the Roman will fair in comparison to his new team mate Heikki Kovalainen. Many people feared the worse for Giancarlo, as Heikki showed during pre-season testing that he can be very fast and very capable. And after being beaten for the previous two years by Fernando Alonso, Fisichella was in the dulldrums.
He definitely has to win half a dozen races this year. If not he’ll be falling back to the teams down the grid; he won’t be getting another top line drive. Mike Gascoyne
Mike’s words were echoed by the current Technical Chief at Renault, Pat Symonds, which would suggest that unless Fisi performs, they’ll be putting young up-and-coming driver Nelson Piquet Jr into the second seat.
Those words were made before the season begun though, and although Renault are yet to show competitiveness that is in comparison to the previous two years, it is clear which of the two drivers is doing better. Three races in and it is experience that rules, as Fisichella leads his team mate by seven points. In each of the races so far Giancarlo has picked up points, four in Australia, three in Malaysia and one in Bahrain. Heikki has only managed a single point so far.
It should also be noted, that aside from Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo has dominated his previous team mates, and these include Jenson Button, Ralf Schumacher and Felipe Massa.
So Fisichella is performing better than his team mate, which is something reigning World Champion is having difficulties with at his new home in Woking at the moment. But is it enough to keep in the seat for next year. And is it something that Renault should be looking at a little closer when they come to decide who drives for them next year?
Giancarlo has just stated that he would like to continue in Formula One until he has eclipsed Riccardo Patrese’s record of 256 Grands Prix – that would require Fisi driving until 2011, the year of his 38th birthday. Fisi also wants to see his career out with Renault, but it remains to be seen if Renault want to see out their career out with Giancarlo.
I think they could do a lot worse than Giancarlo. They could do better – they did for a few years – but the only constant in F1 is change. Heikki will surely improve, but should the young Finnish driver not, maybe it is this seat that should be given to Nelson Piquet. It is also worth remembering that there will be another two seats available next year, as Prodive comes to the grid, and team boss Dave Richards has expressed an interest in one experienced driver and one cheap but unproven driver for his team.
Whatever the outcome, do you see Fisichella driving in Formula One past 2007? Do you think he’ll get another contract with Renault, or another team? Or did he blow it in 2005 and 2006 when he was comprehensively beaten by Alonso? Have your say in the comments below…
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