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Fisichella: 2009 key year for me

Giancarlo Fisichella has said that he needs to see Force India make a step forward in 2009 if he is to stop himself calling time on his Formula 1 career at the end of the year.

The Italian veteran has admitted that a challenging 2008 campaign with the team was tough for him to cope with, but he hopes that the outfit's new technical partnership with McLaren will help lift its fortunes - and make him decide he wants to continue in F1.

Speaking to AUTOSPORT about his feelings on F1 after the difficult last season, Fisichella said: "It was really tough mentally for me you know. In my career I usually drove a good car and won races.

"I went many times on the podium so it wasn't easy to be always in the last row... sometimes it was very frustrating, and sometimes it was encouraging. But you know, it is my job and I like this sport - and I still want to go ahead.

"This year is a very important year for me. I need to know what I have to do for the future. Obviously another difficult season means it will be difficult to continue, but I am looking forward."

Although the new Force India VMJ02 has put in some strong times in pre-season testing, Fisichella is not expecting much pace from the car at the start of the season.

"I was quite optimistic after the first test, but I am not so excited now because unfortunately the car came late and we haven't tested enough," he said. "Mechanically the car looks alright, with the engine and gearbox running very well, but we need downforce.

"We are struggling with the grip, so for the first four races away from Europe I think we are going to struggle like last year. But hopefully when we come back in Barcelona we will have KERS and a new package, I hope it is a good step forward. The midfield may be a little bit difficult, but we will see."

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