Force India has moved quickly to deny remarks made by its commercial director Ian Phillips that Ferrari will confirm Giancarlo Fisichella as its driver for the Italian Grand Prix within the next 24 hours.
Phillips, who often appears on the BBC’s F1 coverage, told the broadcaster:
Nobody’s asked us yet but I think it’s pretty likely that somebody will make a phone call to Vijay Mallya over the next 24 hours or so asking if we would release him to Ferrari.
I don’t think they [Force India] have really got any options. Ferrari being Ferrari, it’s their home race at Monza, which is a place with a cauldron-like atmosphere, particularly for the Italians – seats will be thrown on the track if Ferrari aren’t doing well.
So they’re going to have to put sombody in there who can basically run around with Raikkonen at the front of the field.
The team reacted with the following statement:
Ian Philips?óÔé¼Ôäó comments do not reflect the views of the Force India Formula One Team Management since he is not the designated spokesperson for the team nor is he authorised to speak to the media. His comments should therefore be ignored. We completely deny as baseless, whatever is reportedly attributed to him in reports that have appeared in a section of the press a short while ago.
Force India are believed to have outstanding debts with Ferrari from last season, when the Italian manufacturer was its engine supplier.
Fisichella’s manager Enrico Zanarini has denied Ferrari have approached Fisichella. But if they did, given that Fisichella’s spoken in his past about his desire to drive for the team, and he would get to do so in his home race, it’s difficult to see him turning them down.
That in turn could provide an opportunity for Force India’s third driver, Vitantonio Liuzzi, to return to the cockpit.