Fisichella: 'The target was to win my first race'

GIANCARLO FISICHELLA: Benetton-Playlife B200

Fisichella: 'The target was to win my first race'

2000 CHAMPIONSHIP: 6th, 18pts
On the podium again in Brazil, Monaco and Montreal.
Tangling with Michael Schumacher at Hockenheim, and underperforming in the last three races.
Stays for fourth year with Benetton as works Renault support begins to kick in. But will Jenson Button give him a hard time?

Sixth place overall (or second behind Ralf Schumacher in the 'best of the rest' contest) wasn't a bad outcome for Giancarlo Fisichella and Benetton in 2000. The Italian was one of the few drivers to break McLaren and Ferrari's stranglehold on the podium, albeit only when the top teams hit trouble. Nevertheless second in Brazil (after Coulthard's exclusion) plus thirds at Monaco and Montreal were well-deserved results. Giancarlo had a brilliant first half of the season, but after registering his first retirements with frustrating first lap crashes at the A1-Ring and Hockenheim things went downhill fast, and he didn't score a point in the last nine GPs. Once again Benetton displayed erratic form, and in the latter races attention switched to the 2001 programme and competitiveness suffered as a result Giancarlo was not in the picture at all in the last few races, and team boss Flavio Briatore was not slow in making his feelings known. The arrival of Mike Gascoyne should lead to a stronger package next year, and if Michelin has the advantage on occasion, Fisichella could add to his F1 trophy collection. He's still highly regarded throughout the paddock.

"I'm quite happy. I expected much better, but I went on the podium in 1998, 1999 and 2000 two or three times. Obviously the target this year was to win my first race, but it was too difficult. Ferrari and McLaren were too competitive, and even other people were quick - sometimes Williams is good, sometimes Jordan, sometimes BAR, sometimes us. But we were still in good shape, finishing fourth in the constructors' and sixth in the drivers. And I am very, very optimistic for next year."

"It was better than last year, even if in the last few races I didn't score any points. We had a lot of bad luck, we lost a few points in a few races for some problems, like the clutch in Monza, and at some other circuits I had problems at the start with Pedro Diniz and Michael Schumacher."

"Last year the car was very inconsistent. This year the car was better, much more consistent. We stopped the development of the car around two months ago, and we were pushing on the new car. So in the last few races we were not competitive enough with Jordan and Williams and BAR, and it was difficult. We were doing the maximum."

"Well it happened to other people, apart from McLaren and Ferrari, like Williams, Jordan... sometimes they are very competitive, but at the next race quite slow."

"And Monte Carlo!"

"I don't know. Maybe there is good tarmac for us. Normally when we use softer tyres we are quite confident, so we expect a little bit better."

"It was very, very difficult for us."

"The best race? Probably the best was Canada. The conditions were very difficult in the wet, and Hakkinen was pushing the last 10 laps behind me. It wasn't easy, but I went again on the podium. In Monte Carlo some other people had some accidents or some problems with their car. I was very concentrated, very confident, and I think I did a very good job mentally."

"I have no idea. I just like the circuit, and feel confident already after the first lap on Friday. It's quite easy for me to find the limit of the circuit."

"Yes, one of the worst times. I was very upset and very disappointed. In those two races there was a very good possibility to get on the podium to score some very important points, and we lost a lot of points there. And especially because it wasn't my fault."

"It was a racing accident... even Michael one week after the race said I'm sorry for Giancarlo, it was not his fault. That was good for me."

"There were circuits like Austria where I was confident to be strong and be quick, and then I had a problem with the start. Then in Monza I was third in the race and I had a problem with the clutch. It was very frustrating in my home circuit."

"He has a lot of experience. He's already won two championships with the same team, and when he came back there was already a different mentality. All the mechanics, the drivers, the management people were mentally much, much better, more confident because now there is more budget, there is Renault. This is good for us, it's very important."

"He's always pushing. He wants the drivers very fit, he also wants the mechanics very fit, he wants the maximum concentration. It's good."

"He said in the press release his opinion, and then the journalists created a big, big rumour, it's finished now for Giancarlo... It was not good! Flavio just said his opinion. I think the problem was just that on Friday I lost control of the car and I had an accident. Because of that I lost the confidence in the circuit, I needed laps to improve the feeling with the circuit, which was very important, and after that we had a very bad weekend."

"Much happier. You know when Renault was involved it was a very strong company... they won championships, and now they've come back they want to win again. I hope next year we'll already be competitive. I think I can be one of the best drivers if there is good material, and then we'll see in the future."

"We'll see. If we are competitive we can win some races. They are already at the limit. For us it's much easier to decrease the gap."

"It will be very interesting. Sometimes Bridgestone will be better, sometimes Michelin, and it's nice because we can see different cars at the front."

"I think he's a good guy, and I hope to work with him as soon as possible."

"I think in this team the chief engineer has changed, the technical director has changed... it's not good. You need to keep a few guys for a long time, and give them the time to do a good car."

"Yes, I'm sad because Alex is a nice guy and a very competitive guy. He had a very unlucky period, a very difficult period, and now he's coming back. His new deal is not bad, and will maybe help him for the future."

"I don't know. Maybe I found the limit of the car, and Alex sometimes lost the right road about the set-up, and sometimes he had some problems with reliability."

"When they are together they are friends."

"I think Jenson is a very good driver, very quick, and he's learned very quickly. I'm very confident about the team for next year. It will be a very strong team."

"I'm 27... so yes, he's much younger, but I am still young!"

"Maybe yes. At the moment he's very competitive. Compared with Ralf, sometimes he's quicker. For a first year in F1, he's done a very good job."

"An F1 driver's life is difficult. We are very busy everywhere, we travel a lot, and for the family you have not enough time. But when you get home, you are very, very happy."

"A lot. I am much more happy now with her. My life is different because it's better. Day after day there's a little change, she does new things. It's very nice!"

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