Force India deny Fisichella move claim

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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.
Ian Phillips

The team reacted with the following statement:

Ian Philips? 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.

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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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11 comments on “Force India deny Fisichella move claim”

  1. Apart from the sense in such a deal for Ferrari and Fisichella, it has upsides for Force India and Liuzzi, too, because it’s rumoured that Tonio will take Giancarlo’s seat, next year, and releasing Fisico from his contract, gives Liuzzi an extra 5 races of experience in what seems a competitive car.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      31st August 2009, 14:34

      I think that if Fisichella moves to Ferrari, it will be a one-time-only deal. The idea is that he’s a fast Italian in a fast Italian car at a fast Italian circuit; the kind of thing the tifosi go nuts over as only the tifosi can.

      I think Force India are going into damage control mode here; Fiischella just delivered them a great result on a high-speed circuit and Monza is more of the same. They evidently don’t want to go burning their bridges just yet, and if Ferrari approach Fisichella, the team may try and cnvince him to stay. For now, I think they’re buying time to weigh up their options.

      1. Indeed. But if Ferrari and Fisi want it to happen, it will happen. If FI really do owe Ferrari money, it will be reckless to say no out of pride.

  2. 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.

    Well I just heard it 5 minutes ago on Radio5, and I’m pretty sure it was Ian Phillips’ voice!

  3. JohnH: I think what FI are saying is that Phillips is not speaking for the team, rather than denying that he said it at all.

    I thought that – for just about the first time in his tenure on the BBC F1 coverage – EJ made a fair point about this possible move. He makes the point that there is zero chance of a permanent Ferrari drive for Fisi next year, since Ferrari have at least three drivers (four if you count Schumacher) in the frame for next year. So if Fisico really wants a drive next year, sticking with Force India would be the way to go.

    That’s what the head might say. The heart would probably say different…

  4. Wow, think of Fisi — you might have a great (last) chance to win your home Grand Prix, and the first GP win for your team; or you can live your dream and drive for Ferrari at Monza, also with a chance to win, but you have to beat Raikkonen first. What a choice, and all of it happening at (probably) the end of his career!

  5. A case of the heart ruling the head. But if the choice is his he should stay at FI and take a shot at winning at Monza, he owes his team that much, the dream of driving the Ferrari could well turn into a nightmare if things go wrong, he should repay Force Indias faith in him.

  6. Are any of the modern teams in a position to lend drivers to each other? What about all the contractual obligations (thinking about Button/Williams/Honda) and if its only for one race, aren’t there implications about ‘intellectual property’ that the driver could take back to his home team?
    I also don’t see what FI would gain from giving an experienced driver to another team part way through a season, especially as he has just got their first points, and will want to build on it.
    It would make more sense if FI were lounging around and not progressing as a team, and Fisi was desperate for a chance, but this year, I think VJ would take a lot of persuasion…..

  7. Michael.Brownbridge
    1st September 2009, 15:22

    Keith,

    Am I right that any team can only have 4 drivers in a season? Fisi would be Ferrari’s 4th driver which implies that Fisi would have to drive for the rest of the season or Slomo will have the seat back until (if) Massa gets back.

    1. That would make things interesting!

    2. Massa is one of them 4 though so he could come back if that was the case

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