Ferrari sign Fisichella for remainder of season
It has been confirmed this afternoon that Giancarlo Fisichella has been released from his contract with Force India to join Ferrari for the remainder of the season, starting next weekend with the Italian Grand Prix.
"I am very grateful to Vijay Mallya for allowing me this opportunity to drive for the Scuderia Ferrari," said Fisichella. "It is true that it has always been an ambition to do this, and for Vijay to have allowed it to become a reality is very generous. I hope in my turn I have helped Force India grow up and be on the right path to achieve their own ambitions. They are now a very competitive team and I wish them all the very best."
With Felipe Massa, currently recovering from injuries sustained in Hungary, out of action for the remainder of the season, and test driver Luca Badoer failing to shine at both Valencia and Spa Francorchamps, the Italian team were left with little alternative other than to look elsewhere.
"Giancarlo and his management team approached me yesterday with the proposal from Ferrari," stated Force India team principal Vijay Mallya. "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.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was keen to praise the outgoing Badoer as well as welcoming Fisichella to the Italian team.
"We have chosen Fisichella because we can expect him to make a valuable contribution in this final part of the season," said Domenicali. "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."
For Badoer, his final two Grand Prix were something of a 'thank you' from Ferrari for his long standing service to the team as test driver. "We wish to thank Luca Badoer for the team spirit he demonstrated in these circumstances," said Domenicali. "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."
Ferrari is third in the constructors' championship and heading to its home race at Monza and will be looking to extend their 12 points cushion over the recovering McLaren Mercedes team.
Force India is expected to promote test driver Tonio Liuzzi to the race team in place of Fisichella with an announcement "in the coming days".