It's official, Fisichella to drive for Ferrari at Italian GP

No financial settlement, insists Force India boss Mallya

Giancarlo Fisichella

Force India chairman Vijay Mallya said following extensive discussions over the past 24 hours, the outfit agreed to release Fisichella with “immediate effect” from his contract to join Ferrari for the remainder of 2009 season.

“Giancarlo and his management team approached me yesterday with a proposal from Ferrari. 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 his way.

“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,” he said. He said the team would soon name Fisichella’s replacement though test driver Tonio Liuzzi is tipped for the vacant slot.

After Fisichella finished second in Belgian Grand Prix, Formula One paddock was abuzz with reports of his move to Ferrari but both the driver and Mallya himself had denied the reports, calling them ‘media rumours’.

There were reports that Force India owed money to Ferrari for using their engine last season and Fisichella’s move would wipe out the debt but Mallya insisted there was no financial consideration involved.

“We would like to stress that we have not accepted any financial settlement from Ferrari. This agreement has been made in good faith and for the good of Giancarlo and the sport in general. A competitive Italian driver in a Ferrari for Monza is a positive story for Formula One, which can only help raise the sport’s profile in these difficult times,” Mallya said.

Mallya also dismissed suggestions that Fisichella’s exit would weaken the outfit which tasted its first Formula One points in Belgium. Fisichella thanked Force India for letting him go. “I am very grateful to Vijay Mallya for allowing me this opportunity to drive for Ferrari. 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.”

Ferrari excited
Welcoming Fisichella as their new recruit, Ferrari said it expects the Italian to make his mark in the remaining five races of this season. Ferrari has been struggling since Felipe Massa’s near-fatal crash in Hungary forced them to allow Luca Badoer race for the side. But the test driver has been struggling, earning the rather unflattering nickname of ‘Look How Bad You Are’.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali said he expects Fisichella to contribute to the team. “We have chosen Fisichella because we can expect him to make a valuable contribution,” said Domenicali.

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