Injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has added his support to the team's choice of Giancarlo Fisichella as his replacement for the remaining five grands prix on the 2009 Formula One schedule.
The Brazilian, who had considered the possibility of returning to the cockpit at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, apparently spoke to Fisichella shortly after the Italian's move from Force India was confirmed, telling him that he was the right man for the job of partnering Kimi Raikkonen at the final European race of the season and beyond.
“After the signature, I called him together with [team principal Stefano] Domenicali," Fisichella revealed from Maranello, "He told me that he was really happy and that I am the right choice. I told him that I am very sad that I got this possibility only because of what happened to him in Hungary and I hope that he will be back as soon as possible. When he wants to come back, the car is his - he can take it back. I hope that I'll be as good as he is and to gain the results he had gained.”
Instead of travelling to Italy, Massa underwent the latest step in his rehabilitation from the head injuries he suffered in qualifying, with a successful four-and-a-half hour plastic surgery procedure on his fractured skull at Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein hospital. The Brazilian will require a short stay at the facility, before being able to return home to continue his recovery, with an eye on returning to action at the start of the 2010 campaign.
Fisichella, meanwhile, repeated the claim that being signed by Ferrari was a dream come true - one that he was on the verge of forsaking.
"At 36, I'd lost hope - but, obviously, you never say never," he told journalists from Ferrari's Italian base, "I have to say thank you to chairman [Luca di] Montezemolo, who personally chose me, thank you also to Domenicali and to Ferrari for this possibility.
“I couldn't believe it, I didn't sleep at night, but I didn't speak about [the opportunity] with anyone. Then, 24 hours later, the announcement came, it was done. The first person I spoke to was my father, my biggest fan, the one who said from time to time 'how come that Ferrari doesn't call you?'..."
Revealing that he had yet to exchange notes with new team-mate Raikkonen, and that he was looking forward to being able to discuss his new role with seven-time F1 world champion - and Ferrari advisor - Michael Schumacher, Fisichella admitted that he wasn't underestimating the task that lies ahead of him, especially after the Scuderia's official reserve, Luca Badoer, struggled to lift the second F60 off the back row of the grid in qualifying for both the European and Belgian grands prix.
"The dream has come true, but now the challenge is not really easy," the Italian admitted, "I'm starting from the beginning, with a new car, a new team and a new steering wheel, [although] I know that, at Monza, I can count on two forces I didn't have before - the enthusiasm of [the tifosi
] and the 70-80bhp extra we get from KERS, which we could was what I was missing when I was behind Raikkonen last Sunday at Spa."