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Fisichella: Alonso my friend, Max perfect, Lewis to Ferrari amazing

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Former Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella shared his thoughts about the sport’s biggest stars – Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen – as well as kind words for Flavio Briatore in an interview made possible by OLBG.

Fisichella began his career in F1 at the 1996 Australian Grand Prix and ended 229 GPs later at the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

During that time, Fisichella scored 19 F1 podiums and was a winner on three of those occasions. He raced for Benetton which became Renault during his stint there, and also raced for Jordan, Force India, Sauber, Minardi and Ferrari. He had 14 teammates during that spell.

Today, clearly in good shape for a 51-year-old and looking much like he did when he raced in F1, I was allocated a 10-minute, one-on-one Zoom with Fisi. Needless to say, the time went by super fast. A shame because he is a character that warrants far more time to tell his tales.

Nevertheless, in the time made available, he tackled F1’s hot topics: Fernando, Lewis, Max… and also a had a good word for Flavio Briatore.

Fisi: Alonso and I had fantastic seasons together

Fisichella: Alonso getting older but quicker

Around the turn of this century, Fisichella was Alonso’s teammate when the Spaniard won his back-to-back F1 titles with Renault, the Italian recalled: “First of all, Fernando is my friend and a very nice guy. He was my teammate in 2005 and 2006. As you know, we had fantastic seasons together, we won the F1 driver’s championship with him and the F1 constructors championship for two years in a row.

“It was great. We worked very well together for the team and we worked very well with each other. We used to talk about our telemetry, talk about everything to work in the right direction. To give our experience, or let’s say problems, to the engineer to improve our car to develop our car. For two years it was very good.”

As for Alonso’s longevity, still with his A-Game at 42, Fisichella said of his former teammate: “I’m not surprised because I know how quick it is, he was so quick. Also, the consistency in his race pace. At 42 he is still one of the best drivers in the world.

“At the beginning of the season last year, with a good car, he was doing some incredible things. Then the rest of the season was a bit more difficult for him because probably the Aston Martin was in development as you know. Compared to teams like Mercedes or Ferrari. And they were a little bit slower. But Fernando in the race is amazing.”

Fisi: Verstappen is nearly perfect

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 20: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing poses in his room following the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 20, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Regarding Red Bull superstar Verstappen, echoing what his peers think of Red Bull triple F1 world champion Verstappen, Fischella said: “Wow. Max is amazing!”

With a grin, the 51-year-old Roman added: “I never raced with him. I raced with his father [Jos] Yeah, I think Max could be many times F1 world champion, maybe he can overtake the records of Schumacher and Hamilton. He’s incredibly special.

“What I can say is he is unique, in qualifying he is incredible. When he started this career was was quick, but he was making mistakes. Now he’s quick in qualifying and he’s also quick in the race, and he doesn’t make any mistakes. He’s nearly perfect. You know, ihe’s incredible. He could be World Champion for several more years,” predicted Fisichella.

As for his own big break in F1 over two decades ago, Fisichella recalled the role of Briatore who, at the time, managed the team as well as their star Alonso: “Flavio was very important for me. I met him when I was in my first year in Formula 1 with Minardi. At the end of the season in 1996, I had a chat with him.

“After that, I did an important test which was pretty good. I was quick as Jean Alesi and I did very well in the race distance. So just after the test, I went to the factory and straightaway I signed a contract with Benetton and with Briatore for five years,” he said.

“The first season the Benetton drivers were Alesi and [Gerhard] Berger they gave the possibility to race with Jordan in 1997. And then from 1988 until 2001, I race for for Benetton,” thanks to Flavio no doubt.

Fisi: I thought Hamilton to Ferrari was fake news!

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The final question for Fisichella was inevitable: Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari…

Fisi said without hesitation: “It’s great. I mean, I didn’t expect the news a few weeks ago. For me at the beginning, I thought it was fake news. But then it’s true! This is amazing for Ferrari for the Italian people as well.

“After many years in Formula 1 with Mercedes, a seven times world champion is not at the end of his career even at 39, and he wants to race for Ferrari. As you know, Ferrari for every driver has been a dream since we were young. For me, it was always my dream.

“And I think it’s the same thing for every driver. So it’s incredible news. And I think Lewis and Charles Leclerc will do well at Ferrari together,” predicted Fisichella whose final five GPs in F1 were as a Ferrari driver. (Interview made possible by OLBG)

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