Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Interview with F1 race winner and WEC star Giancarlo Fisichella

This week I was lucky enough to interview 3 time F1 race winner, WEC GTE champion and 24 hours of Le Mans winner Giancarlo Fisichella. The Italian told me about his move from F1 to the WEC, as well as his day to day activities for Ferrari.

A member of the Ferrari family since 2009, Giancarlo Fisichella has had an impressive career. Before F1, the Rome native impressed many in karting before graduating to the Italian Formula 3 series in 1992. He attracted more attention there by winning a race in his debut season, only the third driver to do so, on his way to eigth in the final standings that year. After clinching the title in 1994 and a spell in the international Touring Car championship the following year, Fisichella made his F1 debut in 1996 with Minardi.

After spells with Jordan and Benetton, Fisichella clinched his first win in 2003 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, his third race after returning to Jordan. However, it was very nearly a different story as a timing error saw Kimi Raikkonen proclaimed the victor and Fisichella had to wait a week to celebrate.
After spending 2004 with Sauber, Fisichella achieved 2 more wins and back to back top 5 championship finishes in 2005 and 2006 with the Renault team. Another season with the Anglo French squad saw him claim a further 21 points before moving to the new Force India team for 2008.

However, 2009 gave Fisichella the chance of a lifetime as, due to the unfortunate injury to Brazil's Felipe Massa, Fisichella was given the opportunity to race for the fabled Ferrari team. Fisichella made the move midseason and with the addition of KERS in comparison to his Force India race car, he describes the Ferrari as 'very different to drive'. Racing with them for the latter part of 2009 before becoming their third driver in 2010, 'Fisi' now races the 458 Italia GT car in the World Endurance Championship for them in adition to participating with all racing and comercail activities linked to Ferrari owners. He tells me has a great relationship with all of his fellow drivers at Ferrari, but perhaps more so with Fernando Alonso, with whom he was team mates with at Renault in 2005 and 2006. He also praises Pedro de la Rosa's recent signing saying '  I’ve known Pedro for many years now. I think that one more driver and one with his experience will be good for the work of the team. He has a lot of experience with other teams and particularly on the simulator'.

Moving from F1 to GT is a big step for any driver and for Fisichella it was no different. He tells me that initially 'It was pretty tough' however, he continues 'I soon adapted and when I began winning I understood that I had made the right choice'. His aim now is to win the WEC something he acieved in the GTE class in 2012, as well as coming 1st in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same season, an event he describes as his favourite.
Inspired by Ayrton Senna, a man with an iconic helmet design, Fisichella tells me that there's no special theme behind his helmet design 'it’s just a design I liked and that I wanted to stay always the same on my helmets'.

Away from the track, Fisichella drives a humble Fiat Freemont. He describes how he wants to enjoy a calm life, spending time with his family and friends and to ensure that his children have a good future. Always wanting to be a sportsman, he tells me that if he was not a racing driver, he'd probably be a footballer. He is also a strong skier, a skill he showed last month at the Wrooom! press event by beating his Ferrari and Ducati counterparts in the ski race at the event.




Interview with Giancarlo Fisichella

  • With Ferrari owners at Valencia
    Dominik Wilde: Can you describe your role for the Ferrari F1 team? What do you do each day for the Scuderia?
      Giancarlo Fisichella: Since 2011, I’ve been on the books for all racing and commercial activities linked to Ferrari owners, but my main role is driving in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the wheel of the 458 Italia GT.
  • DW: When you moved from Force India to Ferrari in 2009, what were the biggest differences between both cars? Most people who watch F1 would not understand that the cars would be different at all, were they?
      GF: Compared to the Ferrari, the Force India car did not have KERS or a moveable wing and it was also very different to drive.
  • Alonso and Fisichella were
    team mates at Renault
     DW: What are the other Ferrari drivers like to work with? Who would you say you are closest too?
GF: I’ve got a great relationship with all of them, but maybe it’s a bit more special with Fernando Alonso, as we were team-mates at Renault from 2005 to 2006.

  • DW: What are your views on Pedro de la Rosa's signing for Ferrari? How well do you two know each other?
      GF: I’ve known Pedro for many years now. I think that one more driver and one with his experience will be good for the work of the team. He has a lot of experience with other teams and particularly on the simulator.
  • Fisichella's first F1 win came in
    unusual circumstances at
    Interlagos in 2003
    DW: What was your favourite of your F1 wins and why?
GF: You never forget your first win, even if in my case – in Brazil in 2003 – I was not able to celebrate it at the time because of a timing error.

  • DW: How did you find changing from F1 cars to GT cars? They are different but was it unusual at all?
     GF: It was pretty tough, because there are so many differences between the two disciplines, but I soon adapted and when I began winning, I understood I had made the right choice.
  •       DW: What is your favourite event on the motorsport calendar?
GF: The Le Mans 24 Hours without a doubt. It’s an amazing race and truly unique of its type.
  • DW: What are your career highlights and why?
      GF: I wouldn’t single out any in particular. Maybe the key moments were the moves from one category to another: from karting to Formula 3 to Formula 1.
  • DW: Who has been your biggest inspiration?
      GF: Ayrton Senna
  • Demonstrating a Ferrari
    F10 in Moscow
    DW: What are your aims and dreams for the rest of your career?

GF: At the moment, my aim is to win the world championship and to be part of the Ferrari family for as long as possible. In general, I want a calm life in which I can do all I can to ensure my children have a good life and future.

  • DW: I Do you have any regrets or things you would've done differently in your career?
GF: It’s in my nature never to look back and so far, I’m happy with everything I have done.

  • If he wasn't in F1, it's likely Fisi
    would be a footballer
    DW: If you weren't a racing driver, what would be your career?

GF: I’d definitely be a sportsman, maybe a footballer because I love football a lot.

  • DW: I must say, in my opinion you have the most beautiful helmet in all of motorsport. What are the ideas behind it?
GF: There is no special theme behind it, it’s just a design I liked and that I wanted to stay always the same on my helmets. I just changed the green to red when I joined Ferrari.

  • DW: What car do you drive on the road, away from the track?
GF: Currently a Fiat Freemont

  • DW: Outside of racing, what do you like to do?
GF: I like to spend as much time as possible with family and friends.

      I'd like to say a massive thank you to both Giancarlo and once again Renato Bisignani at Scuderia Ferrari for granting me this interview and assisting me with it.
       Images have been taken from various scources across the internet. No copyright infringement is intended and any images can be imediatley removed upon request

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