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Fisi takes AUTOSPORT.com around Imola

Giancarlo Fisichella has had storming start to the 2000 season. The Benetton driver will be hoping to add to his early-season form with more points at this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.

Adam Cooper caught up with the Italian star on the eve of the opening European race of the season.

Fisichella took him on a lap of the Imola circuit…..

"I like Imola a lot, because it's a home Grand Prix and I won my first F3 race there. I have a lot of fans there, and there is a bit more pressure than normal, but for me it's good.

"Now it's different from the F3 days, because of the chicanes added for 1995. At Imola it's very important to have a car which is good at changing direction. The set-up is usually medium aerodynamic level, and medium on springs and bars. For the brakes it's also quite difficult.

"At the end of the straight before Curva Tamburello we're in top gear, and the speed is about 300kph. We go down to second gear for the chicane, and very soon we change up to third. This corner is not very easy.

"We go up to sixth gear before the next chicane at Curva Villeneuve. For the first part, the left, we go down one gear to fifth, and then for the next part we go down another two gears to third.

"We are in fourth gear before the braking for Tosa, and here we go down to second. It's quite slow, and very difficult because it's quite low grip, especially at the exit of the corner. It's quite poor traction.

"Then we go up hill to Piratella. It's a very difficult left hand corner. Here we pass in fourth gear, and the speed is more than 180kph. This leads to the double right at Acque Minerali. The first corner is in fourth gear, and the second part is in second gear. Here again there is very low grip, and traction is very important, as the exit is uphill, and you have a lot of wheelspin. A lot of people also go off there because braking is very difficult.

"The Variante Alta is quite a quick chicane. It depends on the ratios, but you can do it in second or third gear. Then there is another long straight, and at the end we are doing more than 300kph. Then there's very, very hard braking at Curva Rivazza, because it's downhill. Again, here there is very poor grip. The first part is taken in second gear, and the second one in third gear. We go up to sixth gear on the final straight before we get to the Variante Bassa, another slow chicane which is taken in second gear. It's easy to make a mistake on the exit onto the pit straight.

"I think the section from Piratella to Variante Alta is very, very important to your lap time, but obviously you have to be quick everywhere."

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