Giancarlo Fisichella

Born:
14th January 1973 (Age 46)
Rome, Lazio
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

This popular Italian was a Formula 1 driver for over a decade before his "dream" opportunity to race for Ferrari turned into a frustrating disappointment. Good looking, cool and fast on his day, Giancarlo Fisichella was touted by some as a potential championship contender. He did win three Grands Prix but ultimately fell short when in a title-winning car.

Background and early racing career

The son of a Roman garage owner, Fisichella had finished second in the 1990 Formula A World Karting Championship before being disqualified for receiving outside assistance on the grid. He jumped straight into Formula 3 in 1992 and won the final round with the Jolly Club’s Ralt RT36-Alfa Romeo.

Third in the standings a year later, Fisichella’s RC Motorsport Dallara F394-Opel dominated the 1994 Italian F3 Championship and won at Monaco. Obviously destined for F1, he was Minardi’s test driver in 1995 while also racing for Alfa Romeo in the International Touring Car series.

Formula 1 graduation

Fisichella then impressed in eight GP starts with Minardi in 1996 before being replaced by a paying driver. The potential and personality was that of a future star and Fisichella signed with Jordan-Peugeot for 1997. He generally outpaced new team-mate Ralf Schumacher and seemed set for second place in Argentina until the German barged him off the track. Fisichella then led at Hockenheim before puncturing a tyre, twice finished on the podium (including second at Spa-Francorchamps) and was eighth in the world championship.

Switch to Benetton

Such was his promise that Jordan and the Flavio Briatore-managed Benetton team went to court to secure his services for 1998. Benetton won the case although Fisichella’s four seasons with the former champions were ultimately disappointing if well paid. Early signs were good – second at Monaco (despite a spin) and Canada, he then qualified on pole position in Austria. But the team was hampered as Bridgestone concentrated its tyre development on McLaren’s championship challenge.

Certain victory in the wet 1999 European GP at the Nürburgring was lost when he spun out of the lead. His reaction was pure Latin emotion. Further second place finishes in Canada that year and in 2000 Brazilian GP could do little to disguise a talent misplaced.

The return to Jordan delivers victory at last

He returned to Jordan in 2002 with his career appearing on the slide and it was another disappointing and unlucky year. That ill-fortune changed at the 2003 Brazilian GP. The race was stopped amid chaos – Mark Webber crashed and when Fernando Alonso ploughed into the wreckage the officials had little option but to show the red flag. But who had won? Kimi Räkkönen was declared victor as Fisichella’s burning Jordan EJ13-Ford had pitted just as that carnage ensued on track.

But five days later, the race stewards declared that Fisichella had been in the lead by a scant 0.945 seconds when the race had been abandoned. A GP winner at last, Fisichella received his trophy on the Imola startline a fortnight later.

Success for Renault

After spending 2004 with Sauber, Fisichella rejoined Briatore in the renamed Renault team in 2005. At last, he was in a championship-winning seat – the team achieving back-to-back titles to end the Michael Schumacher era of dominance.

Unfortunately for the Italian, it was his team-mate Fernando Alonso who led the Enstone-based concern to those titles. True, Fisichella won early races both years but he could not match his younger colleague’s pace or focus.

When Alonso announced his defection to McLaren for 2007, Renault hastily re-signed Fisichella to ensure continuity. It should have been his opportunity to shine but he was eventually eclipsed by rookie team-mate Heikki Kovalainen by the end of the year.

Force India and Ferrari

Another spell with the team formerly known as Jordan Grand Prix – now Force India after successive changes of ownership – was a surprise success however. With Mercedes-Benz engines and McLaren drivetrain for 2009, pole position for the Belgian GP thrust Fisichella back into the limelight and he was only beaten by Kimi Räikkönen in the race.

Ferrari was looking to replace the inept Luca Badoer for the next race at Monza and Fisichella was suddenly in demand. His five races with Ferrari should have been his crowning glory but they proved to be a crushing disappointment – qualifying no higher than 14th and not scoring a point for the team.

Life after Formula 1

"Fisi" remained as Ferrari’s reserve driver in 2010 and raced an AF Corse Ferrari in the Le Mans Series – winning the GTE Pro title in 2011 with co-driver Gianmaria Bruni. Racing in the new World Endurance Championship a year later, Fisichella won the class at Le Mans, Silverstone, Interlagos and Bahrain as AF Corse clinched the teams’ crown. He repeated that Le Mans class-win in 2014.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2019/2020 World Endurance Championship
AF Corse
3 0 0 0 0
2018/2019 World Endurance Championship
Spirit of Race
8 0 0 0 0
2017 Blancpain Endurance Series 7th 32
2017 World Endurance Championship
Risi Competizione
1 0 0 0 0
2016 Blancpain Endurance Series 50th 1
2016 World Endurance Championship
Risi Competizione
1 0 0 0 0
2015 World Endurance Championship
AF Corse
1 0 0 0 0
2014 World Endurance Championship
AF Corse
1 0 0 0 0
2014 Tudor United Sportscar Championship
Risi Competizione
1 0 1 1 0
2013 World Endurance Championship
AF Corse
8 0 0 0 0
2012 World Endurance Championship
AF Corse
8 0 0 0 52nd 3.5
2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup
AF Corse
1 0 0 0 0
2009 F1 World Championship
Force India Formula One Team
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
17 1 1 0
0% win rate
15th 8
2008 F1 World Championship
Force India Formula One Team
18 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 0
2007 F1 World Championship
ING Renault F1 Team
17 0 0 0
0% win rate
8th 21
2006 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Renault F1
18 1 5 1
6% win rate
4th 72
2005 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Renault F1
18 (1) 1 3 1
6% win rate
5th 58
2004 F1 World Championship
Red Bull Sauber Petronas
18 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 22
2003 F1 World Championship
Jordan Ford
16 0 1 1
7% win rate
12th 12
2002 F1 World Championship
DHL Jordan Honda
16 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 7
2001 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Benetton Renault
17 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 8
2000 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Benetton Playlife
17 0 3 0
0% win rate
6th 18
1999 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Benetton Playlife
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 13
1998 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Benetton Playlife
16 1 2 0
0% win rate
9th 16
1997 F1 World Championship
Benson & Hedges Jordan Peugeot
17 0 2 0
0% win rate
8th 20
1996 F1 World Championship
Minardi Team
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1996 International Touring Car Series
Alfa Corse
23 (3) 0 6 0
0% win rate
6th 139
1995 International Touring Car Series
Alfa Corse
10 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 37
1995 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Alfa Corse
12 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 30
1994 Italian F3 Championship 1st -