Giancarlo Fisichella, to infinity and beyond

Columns: From Kart to F1
On the eve of his birthday, we had a chat to reminisce about the good times we shared from the late 1980s and early 1990s, but without losing touch with the current state of next-generation Motorsport on which he expressed his interesting point of view. Meanwhile, he continues his motorsport adventure, still making his mark.(cgg)

Giancarlo Fisichella, Fisico to his friends, i.e. Physique, celebrates his 50th birthday on Jan. 14. Long married to Luna, he is the father of Carlotta, Christopher, and Carolina. The Roman is among the iconic drivers of motorsport made in Italy. His career, as it has developed, can surely be called memorable, full of anecdotes and unforgettable moments. Starting with his friendship with Andrea Margutti, whom he met when he was 9 years old and with whom he shared his beginnings in karts at the Pista d'Oro and the many races to follow, including world championships.
The first important trophy placed on his trophy cabinet is the one dedicated to the Memorial of Andrea who died in 1989 on the track of Parma. Fisichella on a PCR, with which he remained close throughout his karting career, won the first four editions of the Margutti Trophy: in 1990 and 1991 at the Pista d'Oro, and in 1992 and 1994 in Parma. Fisico did well, was fast in karting, even in the wet, and made fantastic comebacks; unforgettable, his duels with Jarno Trulli and Jos Verstappen.

After 10 years and numerous victories, he lands in Formula 3, winning the first round of the Italian Championship in Imola. After the parenthesis in the Tourism Championships, in 1995 he climbs into the Minardi as a Test Driver. In 1996, he begins his adventure in F1 with Minardi continuing until 2009 with Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault, Force India, and Ferrari - for a total of 231 Grands Prix. He won in Brazil 2003, Australia 2005, and Malaysia 2006, conquered four pole positions (Austria 1998, Australia 2005, Malaysia 2006, Belgium 2009), and set two fastest laps (Spain 1997, Spain 2005).
He competes in the World Endurance Championship with the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of the Iron Lynx team, in the LMGTE Am class; in WEC, he won in the GTE Pro class, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012 and 2014, together with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, in the Ferrari 458 Italia of AF Corse.
In the season that is about to begin, we will see him engaged in the Italian GT Championship and almost certainly in the WEC championship which promises to be especially fierce. Together with Marco Cioci, he created Pro Racing, a structure to prepare young people, mainly karters, for the transition to single-seaters. But we will talk about this initiative on another occasion.

The most vivid memory of your entire career: you’re a driver who’s lived the full, complete dream, from dad's garage to F1 victories; can you point out one single moment?
Definitely when I found myself, by a fortuitous chance, occupying the Minardi seat a couple of weeks before the F1 world championship began in Montreal. Minardi called me because of the defection of Japanese driver Taki Inoue. I realized I had achieved the ultimate goal once I was in the briefing together with Schumacher, Berger, Alesi, Hakkinen... The dream comes true.

Coming to "your" karting: you were very strong, very fast, and won many races, but not a World Championship. Do you have any regrets in relation to that period? Can you recall at least a couple of memorable races or some indelible episodes from that incredible era?
I had several chances to win a world championship. At least on three occasions. I always went well in qualifying and heats and then always encountered some unfortunate defaults. In Jesolo, they came at me and I ruined the front end and was able to restart, trying to straighten it out there on the spot, but the set-up was now compromised. In Ugento, on the ready start from the first row, the kart wouldn't start, and on another occasion, while I was firmly in the lead, I had to retire with an engine problem. Yes, a little bit of regret remained because the karting world title was something I really cared about.

There is a current flame, a big revival, for 100cc, in many countries. Those old videos, yours included, are all the rage on YouTube and Tik Tok; this, while today’s FIA karting appears to be a bubble, with no audience, that no one cares about (at the karting level, the stuff of and for a select few, insiders) - despite huge investments by (wealthy) families. Why is that karting there still so beloved in your opinion?

Because everything was more genuine. Not only was the management of the kart more functional from the propaedeutic and performance aspect, so that a little bit of everyone had the opportunity to live this beautiful adventure with satisfaction, thanks to the results that sooner or later could be achieved. The Sunday driver, on several occasions, could compete and compare himself with titled drivers: Trulli, Rossi, Beggio, Piccini, Orsini, and so on... Whereas today, this is no longer possible. But also the paddock movement interacted in a more convivial way, without any particular envy; there was more harmony. Today, after the race is over, the drivers have to be under observation and interpret the telemetry together with the technicians. It’s no longer the carefree environment of 90s karting. It feels like being in an F1 paddock. You can understand this, given the expenses that are recorded at each race and having to justify them to the driver.

You can read the full interview in the upcoming Vroom International Magazine and in the pocketmags digital version.

 

Created by: cggiuliano - 13/01/23

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