x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Fisichella shows Ferrari just what he is capable of

Giancarlo Fisichella was yesterday savouring his role in taking the first championship points for Force India, after finishing second at Spa, but the veteran Italian could not help but be a little disappointed.

Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian, drives in the pit lane with his engine on fire yesterday.
Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian, drives in the pit lane with his engine on fire yesterday.

Giancarlo Fisichella was yesterday savouring his role in taking the first championship points for Force India, after finishing second at Spa, but the veteran Italian could not help but be a little disappointed. Celebrations for Force India will no doubt continue until the next Grand Prix at Monza, but Fisichella, who has been reported to be replacing his last-placed countryman, Luca Badoer, as stand-in Ferrari driver, believes that he could have won.

Competing with a driver of Kimi Raikkonen's skill is difficult enough, but to go up against the added power the Ferrari's energy recovery system, KERS, which gives a boost of speed at the touch of a button, makes a tough job even tougher. Raikkonen was able to pass Fisichella on the fifth lap by pressing his KERS button on the straight. "Actually I was quicker than Kimi, he could just overtake me because of the KERS at the beginning," said the 36-year-old. "I'm a little bit sad for that. Of course, obviously it is great result for us.

"The important target was to score even some points, and to finish second with eight points is a great day, but actually you know I was quicker than Kimi. Just one second from the leader which is a great result for us." Fisichella refused to confirm whether he would soon be reaping the benefits of KERS himself. "That is just rumours," was all he would say. "I was just concentrating on this race which has been a fantastic weekend for me.

"I think tomorrow I will concentrate on Monza with Force India. That is all I can say." Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, who has not won a Grand Prix since Spain last year, said he had finally achieved his season's goal which was to win a Grand Prix. "My aim has been to win at least one race and we try to keep third place in the [constructors'] championship; this is going to help us a lot," he said.

Raikkonen also conceded that he was not the quickest in the race, but said he had worked hard for his victory. "We were not the fastest in the lap times but we were fastest and kept everyone behind," he said. "I knew that we needed to get past him [Fisichella] because more or less we were coming in on the same lap and if I didn't do it after the safety car they had too much speed to get it after that.

"I made sure I was close enough up to the first corner and went behind him, got quite a bit of understeer and ran wide at the top of the hill but once I used KERS I managed to get in front of him. "I knew as long as we didn't make silly mistakes we would be fine on the race." Raikkonen, who did not mention the possibility of having Fisichella as a teammate, said he would concentrate on building on yesterday's victory. "It hasn't been easy year for us," he said.

"We were behind straight away in the first race compared to the top teams and we made a big step in Barcelona but it still has not been enough and for sure we have not brought new parts to the car for a few races as we are putting our effort into next year. "It is great for the team and hopefully we can get some good results after this race. I always do well here, we see what we can do in the last part of the season."

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who also made it on to the podium, said the championship was far from over. "I think it is still open. This championship is a bit crazy, to be honest," he said. "If you look at the championship it's a good result. We lost too much ground in the first stint because of the guys ahead, but in the second and third the car was fantastic." @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae For our F1 blog, visit www. thenational.ae/f1blog