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F1 NEWS 

Fisichella: Force India can be competitive

Giancarlo Fisichella says he has joined the Force India team because he believes the outfit can be competitive.

The 34-year-old Roman was left without a drive after Renault decided not to renew his contract, and he will be joining the renamed Force India squad, who under the Spyker name scored one point last season.

Fisichella says Force India was not his only option to continue racing, and believes the team have the potential to move forward.

"I am looking forward to joining Force India for the coming season," said Fisichella. "At the test in Jerez, I was very impressed with the team's professionalism and commitment to move forward and I hope that my experience will help them achieve these goals.

"Contrary to what people may think, this was not my only opportunity, it was the best one: with new owners and a competitive budget, I really think we can shake things up next year. I feel motivated and ready to help Force India get points on a regular basis."

Fisichella, who turns 35 on Monday, has taken part in 194 races.

"He is somebody who has raced with the best in the business," Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya told a news conference after unveiling the drivers.

"The experience and ability to assist the engineering team was a key requirement."

Fisichella will be joining German Adrian Sutil, who stays on with the team following a promising performance in 2007.

"I am very happy to stay with Force India for another season," Sutil said. "There was interest from other teams, but the opportunity to stay with a growing team that has strong ambitions is very positive for me at this stage in my career.

"I am also very excited about the opportunity to work with Giancarlo. He is very experienced and has driven for a world championship-winning team, which can only help both myself and Force India learn and move forward."

The team also named Fisichella's compatriot Vitantonio Liuzzi as the test and reserve driver.

"I am very pleased to be able to help Force India in their testing and development programme this year," Liuzzi said. "With increased resources there will be much more input and emphasis into the team's testing, and the test driver's role will be crucial to helping progress.

"I know I can play a big part in the team as it grows, which is a good opportunity for me going forward."

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