Force India have released driver Giancarlo Fisichella to join Ferrari for the rest of the season, the Formula One team confirm.
Fisichella released to join Ferrari
LONDON // Force India have released driver Giancarlo Fisichella to join Ferrari for the rest of the season, the Formula one team said today. "Giancarlo and his management team approached me yesterday with the proposal from Ferrari," the Force India team principal Vijay Mallya said in a statement. "For any Italian driver, a Ferrari race seat is a long-held dream and for Giancarlo it was no exception. No one should stand in the way of this. "Furthermore the agreement will secure Giancarlo's long-term future with Ferrari and it would be incorrect to jeopardise this, particularly when Giancarlo has made such a vital contribution to Force India." A decision was reached following extensive discussions over the past 24 hours, with Force India reluctant to part with Fisichella in the wake of his stirring second place finish at Spa on Sunday - the team's first ever points in the sport. But Fisichella has now been freed and will become the first Italian to drive for Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix since Ivan Capelli in 1992. "I am very grateful to (Force India owner) Vijay Mallya for allowing me this opportunity to drive for Ferrari," said 36-year-old Fisichella. "It is true that it has always been an ambition to do this, and for Vijay to have allowed it to become a reality is very generous. "I hope in turn I have helped Force India grow up and be on the right path to achieve their own ambitions. "They are now a very competitive team and I wish them all the very best."
Ferrari have been anxious to find a better replacement for the injured Felipe Massa after the team's longtime test driver, Luca Badoer, qualified last and finished no better than 14th in his first two races since stepping in for the Brazilian. Mallya dismissed speculation a deal for Fisichella had been agreed with Ferrari in return for money apparently still owed for engines used last season. "We would like to stress we have not agreed any financial settlement with Ferrari," added Mallya. "This agreement has been made in good faith and for the good of Giancarlo and the sport in general. "A competitive Italian driver in a Ferrari for Monza is a positive story for Formula One, which can only help raise the sport's profile in these difficult times. "We would like to thank Giancarlo for all his help over the past one and a half seasons, and for delivering us our first world championship points last weekend. Ferrari's home race - the Italian Grand Prix in Monza - is next on the F1 calendar, on September 13. * Agencies