And in case anybody thinks I said that – I didn’t. No, in fact these are the words of Renault’s Technical Director – Bob Bell. Bell was speaking prior to the start of the last test session of the year at Jerez, and was commenting on Giancarlo Fisichella, former partner to twice champion Fernando Alonso. However, with Alonso’s defection to McLaren for 2007, Fisichella has been promoted to team leader, partnering young Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen.
Having completed 178 Grands Prix and claiming three victorys, Fisichella has often been regarded as being a very fast driver who has immense skill behind the wheel. Giancarlo usually thrashes his team mates, and dominated previous partners Ralf Schumacher, Alex Wurz and Jenson Button. However, since his move to Renault, Fisi has been living in the shadow of Alonso, and his performances have been far less than expected. While he has managed a couple of wins, Alonso has managed a couple of championships while driving the same car. And although there have been rumours of Renault favouring one driver over the other with superior equipment, it has – to be fair – happened to both drivers. Fernando recently accused Renault of siding with Fisichella after Alonso’s season appeared to fade towards the end and Giancarlo passed the Spaniard during a critical phase of the campaign. Both allegations (Fisichella’s came in 2005) were denied by the team, and on balance, were probably false.
So, Technical Director Bob Bell has gone on record with The Times newspaper saying that Fisi needs to pull his socks up and knuckle down with the aim of winning Renault the hat-trick. Bob spoke further, saying:
If he doesn’t find it this year, then I doubt if he ever will.
We will give him the best equipment we humanly can and give him all the support we humanly can and see where that takes us.
I personally feel that Fisichella can win the championship. But I also feel that he is the kind of driver who needs everything to be going just right for it to happen. I unfortunately put him in the same camp as Jenson Button – very quick, very knowledgable and when the day is right – supremely quick. But should one thing go wrong, one pit stop take an extra second, one missed gear or half a turn too much wing, and they don’t wanna know. Michael Schumacher always had the ability/belief that he could go faster and overcome difficulties – just look as his last race in Brazil last year! Nigel Mansell had a similar attitude as did Ayrton Senna. Does Fisichella have it? I don’t think so. And I completely agree with Bob Bell, this is make or break year for Giancarlo. I just hope he finds it within himself to challenge for wins and overcome Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Alonso’s McLaren.
What’s is your opinion of Fisichella? Quick, slow, a winner, a loser? Does he deserve the title, or does he deserve the boot? Have your say…