Fisichella: 'I am happy where I am'

When next year's Canadian GP comes around Benetton's Giancarlo Fisichella is sure to be worth an each-way bet for a top three finish. But don't expect to get very good odds! This year the Italian continued his incredible run with a fourth podium finish in four years. Once again Benetton's rollercoaster form followed a familiar pattern, and as in previous years, Montreal (like Interlagos and Monaco) suited the team

Fisichella: 'I am happy where I am'

Things didn't look too great for Giancarlo at the start. He ran in a lowly 10th place, and after four laps he lost a spot to Jos Verstappen. He'd gone to the grid with a heavy fuel load in order to run as far as possible and see what happened to the weather. In fact that wasn't too much of a handicap, because he just got caught in a line of cars and nobody else was doing any overtaking, apart from the Arrows pair. Fisichella regained two spots when Verstappen and de la Rosa made their early first stops, made up another when David Coulthard spun during the first shower, and another when Frentzen retired on lap 33. He thus lay seventh when his fellow single stoppers began to come in.

Fortunately for him every one of them went for dry tyres and then had to return to the pits within a couple of laps for wets. When Giancarlo stopped on lap 44 he went straight to wets, and emerged in second place, behind only Michael Schumacher. He was soon passed by Rubens Barrichello, but had no problems holding onto third. By making one stop he had leapfrogged Mika Hakkinen, Jarno Trulli, Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta. Fisichella now has 18 points and lies a comfortable fifth in the championship, behind the 'big four.'

Adam Cooper spoke to the Italian about his successful afternoon

Q: You were very confident when you came here, but did you really expect to finish in the top three again?

"It's fantastic! It's a great day, fourth podium in the last four years, and another podium after Monte Carlo. We did a good job, a good strategy. I called the team to say I wanted to change tyres because it was starting to rain quite heavy. And they said OK, come one lap later. It was the right moment. We started the race with a lot of fuel once again, but it was a good strategy."

Q: Did you struggle with the heavy fuel load?

"The car was difficult in the beginning, but then after 40 laps in the dry my fastest lap was the fifth fastest lap of the race, so it was not too bad. The car was getting better, but it was just a bit too difficult at the beginning."

Q: When you pitted for wets did you already know that everyone else was going to have to make a second stop?

"I was quite surprised when I went in and I was second or third. Then I realised I must drive carefully, but it wasn't easy. There was quite low grip, and I started the race with a low level of downforce, so it was difficult. I went sometimes on the grass. But I finished the race in third position, which is the best I could do."

Q: I saw you go off three or four times at Turn 1. How hard was it?

"I was driving a safe race, but sometimes I went a little bit later in braking and was on the grass, but it was under control!"

Q: Was it good for you to be on your own, and not following anyone else's spray?

"Yes, there was not so much pressure, apart from the end, when Mika was pushing very hard. But it was too wet, and when he was behind me it was too difficult, because there was no visibility."

Q: Were you worried that he'd get past?

"A little bit yes, but I just thought don't do a mistake, and there's no problem at all."

Q: We know that Monaco and Montreal have always been good for the team. Is it going to be harder to score in France?

"Yes, Magny-Cours should be tough for us, but we'll see next week in testing. It's important to score some points again."

Q: Did you ever think you could score so many points by the half way stage of the season?

"Not really, but now we are pushing so hard and we're looking to the future, so I think there's a good possibility to keep my position in the drivers' championship and the Benetton team's in the constructors."

Q: What about next year? There's a lot of talk about you going to BAR, but do you want to stay now that Renault is coming?

"I think I will stay and I want to stay, but other wise I have a lot of chances with a lot of teams. But I'm happy here."

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