Fisichella Looks Long Term

Fisichella Looks Long Term

Giancarlo Fischella - 2007 Bahrain Grand PrixAs 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.

Giancarlo Fischella - 2007 Bahrain Grand PrixSo 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…

Formula One, F1, Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Nelson Piquet Jr


  • I think Giancarlo has earned his place at Renault for 2008 (it’s a tad early to say whether it would be reasonable for him to get his wish of being there in 2011). He’s shown speed, consistency and leadership in the first part of this season, and even if Heikki ends up slightly faster by season’s end (which I am beginning to doubt), Renault will still need Fisichella there for the consistency and leadership.

    Flavio Briatore is not noted for being the most balanced of assessors, and I do worry that one bad performance may be enough to replace either of Renault’s pairing with Nelson Piquet Jr. Good as Nelson is likely to be, however, I think the Heikki story proves that one year’s testing is not always enough…

    Should Fisichella end up somewhere other than Renault, I am sure Prodrive would be happy to have him, and perhaps one or two midfield outfits would take him as well. But the longer Fisi can stay at Renault, the more chance he has of still being on the grid come 2011. Naturally, he would also have to stay on the grid three years longer than Rubens Barrichello to take the overall record, but discussing Barrichello’s career prospects here would just make things even more complicated.

  • Actually, discussing Barrichello’s career prospects is something I hadn’t thought of. Rubens is currently sitting on 235 race starts, and with a further 14 for this year brings him to just 7 shy of Riccardo’s record. Chances are, Rubens will claim the honour first should he manage to race for just one more season.

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