Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fisichella to Ferrari - In red car remainder of 2009 season, test and reserve role in 2010

It has been confirmed this afternoon that Giancarlo Fisichella has been released from his contract with Force India to join Ferrari for the remainder of the season, starting next weekend with the Italian Grand Prix.

�I am very grateful to Vijay Mallya for allowing me this opportunity to drive for the Scuderia Ferrari,� said Fisichella. �It is true that it has always been an ambition to do this, and for Vijay [Mallya] to have allowed it to become a reality is very generous. I hope in my turn I have helped Force India grow up and be on the right path to achieve their own ambitions. They are now a very competitive team and I wish them all the very best.�

With Felipe Massa, currently recovering from injuries sustained in Hungary, out of action for the remainder of the season and test veteran Badoer failing to shine at both Valencia and Spa Francorchamps, the Italian team were left with little alternative other than to look elsewhere for the remainder of the season.

"Giancarlo and his management team approached me yesterday with the proposal from Ferrari," stated Force India team principal Vijay Mallya. "For any Italian driver, a Ferrari race seat is a long-held dream and for Giancarlo it was no exception. No one should stand in the way of this.

"Furthermore the agreement will secure Giancarlo's long-term future with Ferrari and it would be incorrect to jeopardise this, particularly when Giancarlo has made such a vital contribution to Force India.
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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was keen to praise the outgoing Badoer as well as welcoming Fisichella to the Italian team.

�We have chosen Fisichella because we can expect him to make a valuable contribution in this final part of the season,� said Domenicali. �Giancarlo has shown, throughout his long career that he is fast and competitive and we are therefore proud to be able to run an Italian driver in our home race.�

For Badoer, his final two Grand Prix were something of a �thank you� from Ferrari for his long standing service to the team as test driver. "We wish to thank Luca Badoer for the team spirit he demonstrated in these circumstances," said Domenicali. "It is a shame he was unable to show his true worth in these last two races, tackled under conditions which anyone would have found difficult.�

Ferrari is third in the constructors� championship and heading to its home race at Monza and will be looking to extend their 12 points cushion over the recovering McLaren Mercedes team.

Force India is expected to promote test driver Tonio Liuzzi to the race team in place of Fisichella with an announcement �in the coming days�.

Stefano Domenicali confirmed on Thursday that Giancarlo Fisichella will be Ferrari's reserve driver next year.

The team boss was speaking to the Ferrari website on the day the 36-year-old former Force India driver arrived at Maranello from Rome to begin preparing for the last five races of 2009.

Domenicali indicated that Fisichella's role for next year was a factor in his choice as Luca Badoer's race replacement.

"He will be the reserve driver in 2010.� He said. �We considered what could be his role inside the team in the near future, also taking this year's experiences into account.�

Before ending his long race career and slipping into the test role, Fisichella will replace the struggling Badoer at the wheel of injured Felipe Massa's F60, beginning at his home race at Monza next weekend.
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One of his first tasks on Thursday was to climb straight into the cockpit of the red single seater so that technicians could begin to modify the seat and controls to his liking.

"I�m in seventh heaven," Fisichella said. "I still can�t believe it that the dream of my life comes true. I know that it won�t be easy, but I�ll give it everything to gain the best possible results. I want to say that I�m very sorry for Luca - I know how much he cared to race in Monza behind the wheel of a Ferrari, because this is the best thing that can happen to an Italian driver, to drive a red car in front of our fans."

E.A. � CAPSIS International
Source: GMM