It is difficult to pinpoint whether it is the lack of fluency in English or this writer’s perceived reticence that stops Giancarlo Fisichella from giving eloquent replies.
He uses words like ‘difficult’, ‘confident’ and ‘challenge’ repetitively. His Italian accent is on the slighter side though his body language is often pronounced when he shrugs his drooping shoulders as he grapples with words.
The 35-year-old Force India driver was here to be part of a promotional event, for his sponsors, a day after he completed the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. And Fisichella says it has pushed him beyond limits.
“I am exhausted. Both physically and mentally,” he says. “As soon as I finished my race yesterday I had to rush to my hotel, take a shower and fly to this country.”
“But it is a pleasure to be here and I will be going back home tonight to prepare for the last race of the season,” he adds.
Indeed the last race of the season is the final shot for Fisichella to live up to his own record. This will be his first season after 12 years without a single point to his name.
“Why no point?” Fisichella confirms the question. “Well, there is one more race left.”
This quiet confidence is seemingly something of an undercurrent; it hardly gushes loud. The racer, however, feels that having to prove himself season after season has made it pretty basic for him.
“There is no big change to the way I approach my driving,” says Fisichella. “Everyday, I sit in my car and push it to the maximum and that’s what my attitude is and that’s what I believe in.”
Before his stint with Force India, Fisichella has driven for the likes of Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber and Renault. A former teammate of Fernando Alonso, he says joining Force India is not a comedown for him.
“I knew that the present year is going to be difficult before I signed the contract,” Fisichella says. “But I believe in their programme. And I believe that the future is going to be better.”
But when pressed if it is a new low for somebody who was Alonso’s teammate, all he says is it was not easy. “Coming here after racing with Renault wasn’t easy. The car wasn’t easy too.
“I was aware of all this. But I take it as a challenge and feel that next year, and hopefully with a new car, it will be different.” Also, the Engine Rules Freeze comes into effect next season and that he says puts all cars on some sort of level platform. “Next season even the small teams can hope to do well.” Fisichella says he believes in part Force India owner Vijay Mallya. “Mallya has brought F-1 to India and is pouring in a lot of money. His ambition is to have a podium finish in 2010.”
As to just how realistic that ambition is lost in the veils of the future. Right now, Fisichella can only be optimistic. “It is difficult but anything is possible. This year (Toro) Rosso won in Monza and I won the Brazilian GP driving a Jordan car, which wasn’t great. I see no reason why we cannot have a podium finish in 2010.”
When asked how Indian is Force India, he says: “Force India factory is set in England and we have lot of Englishmen and Italian engineers working. But it is owned by an Indian and so is an Indian team.” Err… he seems to have forgotten the Mol family which has a 50% stake.