Retired

Giancarlo Fisichella

Italian

  • Rome, Italy Place of Birth
  • 14 January 1973 Date of Birth
  • 1996 Australian Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • Ferrari Current/Last Team

Quiet, reserved, private, well-liked, and undoubtedly fast, Giancarlo Fisichella was tipped to be a successor to greats like Prost, Senna, and Stewart. Though he consistently outpaced some teammates, except for the likes of world champion Fernando Alonso, luck often seemed to abandon him. Despite his undeniable speed, it wasn’t until 2005 that he had genuinely competitive equipment.

NationalityItalian
BornGiancarlo Fisichella
14 January 1973
Rome, Italy

Like many Formula One drivers, Fisichella began kart racing as a youngster. In 1992, he competed in the Italian Formula Three series with RC Motorsport, finishing runner-up in 1993 and winning the championship in 1994, with victories in Monaco and Macau. He briefly left open-wheel racing to drive for Alfa Romeo in the international touring car series before moving to Formula One in 1996 with Minardi. Mid-season, he was replaced by Giovanni Lavaggi due to funding issues.

Fisichella made his full F1 debut in 1997 with Jordan, scoring his first podium in Canada and outperforming reigning Formula Nippon champion Ralf Schumacher. At Hockenheim, he led much of the race before a puncture, and Gerhard Berger’s inspired driving denied him a win. A superb second-place finish behind Schumacher at Spa in wet conditions marked him as a real talent, leading to his move to Benetton in 1998.

Unfortunately, the Benetton move was poor, as they no longer had works Renault engines and wouldn’t win another race. Early in 1998, promising performances included second places at Montreal and Monaco, but gearbox issues and a clash with Alesi marred his season. The team’s performance dropped in the second half of the year, limiting his points.

The 1999 season was similarly inconsistent, with a few podiums and heartbreak at the Nürburgring when a crash cost him a potential win. In 2000, early podiums were followed by a poor second half, and despite outclassing teammate Alex Wurz, he saw limited success. In 2001, with Renault owning the team, experiments with wide-angle engines hampered performance, but Fisichella still managed a strong drive at Spa to secure a podium. However, he was forced to leave for Jordan in 2002, where he struggled with an uncompetitive car.

In 2003, despite Jordan using Ford engines, a freak win in Brazil gave Fisichella his first victory. He moved to Sauber in 2004, hoping to use it as a springboard to Ferrari, and drove well, outpacing Felipe Massa. This rekindled interest from old team boss Briatore, leading to his return to Benetton (now Renault) in 2005. A win at Melbourne seemed like a breakthrough, but poor luck and Fernando Alonso‘s dominance overshadowed him. Technical problems and missed opportunities, like a last-lap loss to Kimi Raikkonen at Suzuka, raised questions about his mindset.

In 2006, he remained overshadowed by Alonso but was retained for 2007 when Alonso left for McLaren. In 2007, Fisichella became Renault’s team leader, with young Finn Heikki Kovalainen as his teammate and Nelson Piquet Jr. as the team’s test driver.

In 2008, with Renault re-signing Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr. promoted to a full time race seat, Giancarlo Fisichella joined the Force India team as the number one driver alongside Adrian Sutil. This marked his third stint with the former Jordan team. During the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix, he became the 9th driver to compete in 200 Grand Prix. Despite a few promising moments, such as briefly running fifth in Brazil, Fisichella and the Force India team finished the season without any points.

In 2009, Fisichella had a notable season driving the new Force India VJM02 powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine. He started the 2009 Australian Grand Prix from 15th and finished 11th, but faced challenging conditions in Malaysia, where he finished 18th after a spin. The season’s highlight came at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, where he secured Force India’s first pole position and finished second, earning the team’s first points and podium.

Amidst rumours, Fisichella replaced Luca Badoer at Ferrari, starting from the 2009 Italian Grand Prix following Felipe Massa’s injury. He signed a contract as Ferrari’s driver for the rest of the 2009 season and as a reserve driver for 2010, though he remained open to racing for another team in 2010. Despite being linked to Sauber and Force India, he stayed with Ferrari as a test driver in 2010.

At the end of 2010, Fisichella was replaced by Jules Bianchi as Ferrari’s test driver but remained part of the team but would never drive again in Formula 1.

Giancarlo Fisichella Formula One World Championship career

Active years1996–2009
TeamsMinardi, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault, Force India, Ferrari
Entries231 (229 starts)
Championships0
Wins3
Podiums19
Career points275
Pole positions4
Fastest laps2
First entry1996 Australian Grand Prix
First win2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
Last win2006 Malaysian Grand Prix
Last entry2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Sources: Historicracing.com and Wikipedia.com

Teammates

Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
German Toyota Racing 1997 Australian Grand Prix Retired
British McLaren 2000 Australian Grand Prix F1 Legend
Brazilian Williams 2002 Australian Grand Prix Retired
Spanish Aston Martin 2001 Australian Grand Prix Current
Finnish Alfa Romeo 2001 Australian Grand Prix F1 Legend

Teams

Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Minardi Italian 1985 Historic
Jordan Grand Prix Irish 1991 Historic
Benetton British, Italian 1986 Historic
Sauber Swiss 1993 Current
Renault French 1977 Historic
Force India Indian 2008 Historic
Ferrari Italian 1950 Current