Debate: End of the line for Fisichella?

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What next for Giancarlo Fisichella?

The man who was once considered the most promising talent not to have a front-line seat has conspicuously failed to deliver since arriving at Renault in 2005.

He’s lagging behind his junior team mate in the world championship standings and the team has not yet confirmed his position for next year. Could he be on the verge of retiring from F1?

For many years the Italian was the coming man who couldn’t get a break with a top team.

After making his debut with Minardi in 1996 he switched to Jordan before being whisked away, Michael Schumacher-style, by Benetton and Flavio Briatore.

But the team was on a downward spiral. He left at the end of 2001 to return to Jordan, where he won his first ever race in the chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix of 2003.

A year at Sauber preceded a ‘return’ to Renault (formerly Benetton) in 2005. It brought him two wins, and two years of pummelling at the hands of Fernando Alonso.

After Alonso left Fisichella began this year comfortably quicker than new team mate Heikki Kovalainen, leading the young Finn 13 points to three after the Monaco Grand Prix.

But Kovalainen has turned the tables, scoring points in the last five races while Fisichella has been out of the top eight sine to British Grand Prix. In the championship the score reads Fisichella 17, Kovalainen 21.

Can Renault make a case for retaining Fisichella? Kovalainen is arguably the team’s leading driver now and they have the talented rookie Nelson Piquet Jnr (A GP2 championship runner-up just like Kovalainen) waiting in the wings.

And it seems likely that Briatore’s delay in naming his drivers for 2008 is because he holds hopes of pinching Alonso back from McLaren if today’s espionage hearing goes against the British team.

If Renault drop Fisichella, where else could he go? Replacing Ralf Schumacher at Toyota seems a possibility, although it’s unusual to see a team field a pair of drivers of the same nationality, and GP2 championship leader Timo Glock has been linked with that seat.

The only other options might be a return to the kind of back of the grid teams he began his career with.

Photo: Charles Coates / LAT Photographic

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Debate: End of the line for Fisichella?”

  1. fisi to replace wurz, anyone?

  2. It would be a shame to lose Fisi but I agree, his performances last year were hardly inspiring and with such a wealth of talent knocking on the door it would have to be a strong argument that let him retain a “top team” seat.

    Also I really hope keeping him doesn’t come at the expense of Wurz, sorry Phill!

  3. WEALTH of TALENT ??????
    Are you speaking of all these kids fresh from Kart class that think they DESERVE an F1 seat?
    I’d rather watch REAL drivers like Fisi and Wurz ! F1 is not a training ground, all this talent that is lurking around the corner ought to do 2 years or 10,000 km testing before they are allowed on the grid. I pay to see RACING, not some team rolling the dice on a rookie.

  4. few days ago I read somewhere (I think it was autosport but I am not sure) interesting thought about Alonso leaving McLaren and who would take his place… there was quite interesting set of arguments why Fisichella would be the right man…

    But back to Renault – Fisichella’s contract is over at the end of the season and I can’t see too many rational reasons for Briatore to keep him. He can, for a year or two, but then he is risking loosing Piquet or he would have to relegate Kovalainen to 3rd driver role… Would it be worth ? I have nothing against Fisi, but I somehow can’t see him in Renault in 2008

  5. I couldn’t understand why he was kept this year.
    Ok they wanted some stability. But I knew he wasn’t better then Heikki.
    He always has excuses…the previous 2 years he had ‘bad luck’. even in an interview last week at monza he still claimed that was why he couldn’t challenge for the title. Weak imho!

    There are many drivers better than him!

  6. Milos: it was Matt Bishop in Autosport.

    SoLid: I think they needed a driver experienced with the car to help them make the switch to Bridgestones. Obviously it didn’t work as well as at McLaren.

  7. I’d pity Kovalainen if the whining Spaniard joins Renault! Imagine all the clauses in Alonso’s contract making sure he get all the special treatment…

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