Former Renault driver and race winner Giancarlo Fisichella has been confirmed as a Force India driver for 2008, it has finally been reported. The Italian, who has spent time at Jordan, Sauber, Benetton and Renault was essentially booted out of the French team following Flavio Briatore’s decision to reinvigorate the squad with Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr. However, last December Giancarlo tested for Force India and drove well, impressing the teams new owner Vijay Mallya and embarrassing Ralf Schumacher. Fisichella will partner Adrian Sutil who has a long-term contract with the team.
The team will also have a second Italian on their books as Scuderia Toro Rosso refugee Vitantonio Liuzzi will become the squads test driver. Liuzzi also tested in December and again drove reasonably well. But having experience in the racing cockpit is essential for the team to move off the back row.
At the Barcelona and Jerez test we tried many drivers, and then we opted for Fisichella and Liuzzi. Giancarlo, in particular, needs no introduction.
I’ve invested a lot of money to improve the car, but I need to be realistic. I can’t make predictions. The objective is obviously to improve on what was done by Spyker last year. We must get some points. And most of all we must avoid finishing last at the end of the season. Vijay Mallya.
Obviously this is a step down for Giancarlo who has spent much of his career at Enstone with Benetton and then Renault. But the Italian looked to be out on his ear following the change at the Anglo-French squad, so Force India has offered Fisichella a lifeline that he needs to take full advantage of.
Time will tell how the car goes, but for 2008 the team are likely to continue to struggle towards the rear of the grid. Perhaps though, with the right people, Force India might be able to improve into a regular points-finishing team.