Giancarlo Fisichella has joined a growing list of F1 personalities, competitors and pundits declaring championship leader Fernando Alonso the class of the 2012 field.
Once race teammates at Renault, the pair still work together at Ferrari, where Italian and three-time grand prix winner Fisichella, 39, is a test driver. Fisichella is quoted by Spain’s El Confidencial as saying it is “incredible how he (Alonso) judges the limit of the car, the track and the tyres.
“He knows when to attack and when to look after the tyres. He is always on the limit of what he can and should be. At the moment he is quite a step ahead of his rivals. He is always achieving the most of what is possible and I don’t think there is anyone who can do a better job than him,” he added.
Another of Alonso’s strengths, said Fisichella, is the way he has rallied the troops at Maranello around him.
“He is very close to the team,” said the Italian. “He is frequently at Maranello, with the mechanics, playing football with them, going out to dinner with them, cycling with them. The human aspect is very important in Formula One. The mechanics need to see someone who is good, who is fast, but they also need to feel a friendship.”
Vijay Mallya believes that Force India will have a more competitive second season in F1 and looks set to stick with the same driver line-up.
“Force India have clearly demonstrated that we have caught up and improved,â€ Mallya explained. “One realises how tough Formula 1 really is and it reinforces the challenge that I have before me for 2009 to be really competitive. I’m not only catching up from last season, but from the last three seasons. And we have caught up, even though F1 has become so competitive, which is good.
“I am quite optimistic, however, that my experience so far has pointed us in the right direction. I now know precisely what I’m up against, so I can plan better. Maybe I learned the hard way, but it’s good to learn. So 2009 will be much more competitive for the Force India team.
“We didn’t use the seamless shift gearbox in Budapest but we will introduce it at Valencia and as far as I’m concerned, that’s it for the development for 2008 and all the focus from now on will be to develop a really competitive car for 2009.â€
Although there is no official confirmation, Mallya appears happy with his current driver line-up and despite some believing that Chandhok also stands a good chance of driving for the team next season, both Fisichella and Sutil look set to retain their current positions.
“I have two good drivers,” Mallya continued.”The experience of Giancarlo is invaluable and Adrian has lots of talent – I think he is improving race by race, becoming more consistent.
“I am quite happy with them and, more importantly, they have a great attitude that will help me to face the challenges of tomorrow. I think they will be very satisfied driving the 2009 car, which I am sure will be a significant improvement and a big surprise.”
Giancarlo Fisichella has made it clear that he has no plans to retire in the near future. The Italian driver pointed to his contract with Force India which was for two years, meaning he has at least one more year of racing in Formula One left.
When asked if he was thinking about retiring from F1, Fisichella replied, “No I am enjoying myself and love this sport.
“Next year, I will still be here and only after that will I think about my future. With this team or with another team, I don t know yet.â€