Giancarlo Fisichella made it clear that he has no plan to become a full-time replacement for injured driver Felipe Massa at Ferrari.
“I spoke with Massa by phone and he told me he’s very happy for me and that I was the right choice,” Fisichella said at his introduction as a Ferrari driver for the final five races of the Formula One season.
“I responded that I’m very sorry about what happened to him and told him to get better soon. ‘Whenever you want your car come and take it because this is yours. I just hope I can do what you would have done,”’ Fisichella recounted, according to the ANSA news agency.
Massa is not expected to return until net season after an accident almost cost him his life at the Hungarian GP.
Ferrari’s long-time test driver Luca Badoer filled in for Massa in the first two races after the accident but qualified last and finished no better than 14th, prompting the team to hire Fisichella from Force India last week.
“I began my career with Minardi in 1996 and after nearly 14 years I had pretty much given up hope of driving a Ferrari, so I’m filled with happiness and pride now,” Fisichella said.
Only one Formula One colleague called Fisichella after the move - former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.
“He congratulated me. We’ve been good friends since we were 14,” said Fisichella, whose first call after the move was to his father Roberto, a mechanic in Rome.
“He’s my No. 1 fan and he was waiting anxiously. He kept on asking me and I didn’t know what to tell him,” Fisichella said. “It was one of the most beautiful moments of our lives.”
Fisichella will get his Ferrari debut on home soil at Monza this weekend.
“I’ve been racing there since 1992 when I was in Formula Three,” he said. “It’s a track I know well.”