Giancarlo Fisichella was in contemplative mood as his final outing with Ferrari – and quite possibly final race in F1 full-stop – ended on a low-key note with a drive-through penalty and 16th-place finish in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the weekend.
For the second time during his five-race stint with the Scuderia
– and for the second grand prix in succession – Fisichella qualified plum last on the starting grid as F1 visited the United Arab Emirates for the first time, around the spectacular all-new, Hermann Tilke-designed Yas Marina street circuit.
Though a bright, KERS-aided getaway gained him four places off the starting line to leapfrog both Renaults as well as a Force India and Scuderia Toro Rosso, a subsequent drive-through penalty for pit-lane speeding lost him virtually all of the ground he had gained, consigning the experienced Roman to a disappointing finish, ahead of only former team-mate Adrian Sutil and rookie Romain Grosjean.
The sole consolation for Fisichella was that his pace was not far off that of ex-F1 World Champion team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – with a fastest lap less than three tenths of a second adrift of the Finn – but it was nonetheless undeniably a dispiriting way to conclude what began as a dream switch to Maranello...and swiftly degenerated into a nightmare.
“I am disappointed that third place got away from us like this,” the 36-year-old reflected of Ferrari's failure to pip traditional rival McLaren-Mercedes to the bronze medal in the final constructors' standings, “but our pace was what it was, as can be seen from my team-mate's twelfth place. I tried all I could, as usual, and I feel I drove a good race. It was a shame about the drive-through, which compromised my second stint.
“I got a good start and got past Grosjean, who then got ahead of me again, cutting the chicane, but then in-turn I got by, taking back what he had gained. I am sorry that I wasn't able to contribute to the team in terms of points and to have not really shown my worth. Unfortunately, the F60 is very difficult to drive, especially in qualifying, and starting from the back is always a big penalty. Now the time has come to think of the future; I do not yet know if I will get a race drive with a team, but what is certain is that I will be a Ferrari driver and I am happy about that.”
As Fisichella's grand prix career perhaps drew to a close after no fewer than 229 starts, three victories and 19 podium finishes, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was quick to praise and thank his countryman for his efforts, even if they had failed to yield the hoped-for points.
“In order to realise his dream of racing for Ferrari, Giancarlo left a team just as it was going through its best part of the season,” the Italian underlined. “Again here, he did his utmost right to the final kilometre. I am proud of our drivers, as I am of everyone who works in our team, and I am sure that every one of them will know how to learn the right lessons from this season and will be even more motivated to try and redeem themselves immediately.”