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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fisichella to Ferrari

Giancarlo Fisichella was released from his Force India contract and will take over the second car for Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Qualifying

Rumors had been swirling for close to a week that the veteran Italian would be replacing the embattled Luca Badoer for the Scuderia, and only intensified after Fisichella's stunning performance at Spa.

Discussions apparently opened up after it became clear Felipe Massa was not going to be able to return this season, and a deal was quickly arrived at.

"Giancarlo and his management team approached me yesterday with the proposal from Ferrari," owner Vijay Mallya is quoted on the team's Web site. "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."

Mallya also denied speculation the agreement was reached to settle old debts with Ferrari.

"We would like to stress that we have not agreed any financial settlement with Ferrari. 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."

A decision has yet to be made as to who will line up with Adrian Sutil at Monza. Force India have test driver and Toro Rosso survivor Vitantonio Liuzzi on the books.

“We have chosen Fisichella because we can expect him to make a valuable contribution in this final part of the season,” Stefano Domenicali is quoted on the Ferrari Web site. “Giancarlo has shown, throughout his long career, that he is fast and competitive and we are therefore proud to be able to run an Italian driver in our home race."

Domenicali also defended Badoer's effort in the last two races.

"We wish to thank Luca Badoer for the team spirit he demonstrated in these circumstances: it is a shame he was unable to show his true worth in these last two races, tackled under conditions which anyone would have found difficult.”

The Ferrari statement

The Force India statement
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