Giancarlo Fisichella is now being touted as the favourite to join star 2009 debutant Kamui Kobayashi at Sauber for F1 2010.
According to reports by authoritative Swiss newspaper Blick
, Fisichella flew from Ferrari's pre-season extravaganza held in Madonna di Campiglio to Sauber's Hinwil base last Thursday.
Sauber will use Ferrari engines in 2010 and it is believed that the Maranello-based outfit is keen to see the Italian race with the Swiss operation and is pressuring team boss Peter Sauber to give the veteran a drive. Technical director Willy Rampf is similarly understood to be championing the 37-year-old's cause.
"Everything is open," insisted Sauber. "In the end, only I will decide."
Speaking last month, Fisichella, who made his F1 debut back in 1996 with Minardi and who has competed in over 200 F1 races, confirmed that it was 'possible' he would return to Sauber in 2010.
"I'm happy that they (Sauber) can participate in the championship (next year)," he told Ferrari's official website while at the Bologna Motor Show back in December. "I would like to be able to collaborate with a team I know, and I got on very well with them; together with Ferrari, we'll see if that will be possible."
Pedro de la Rosa had been tipped to get the vacant Sauber seat a few weeks back [see separate story – click here
], however it now appears he will stay on at McLaren as the official test and reserve driver.
Indeed Jenson Button revealed last weekend that the Spaniard will give the new MP4-25 its debut run at Valencia on February 1 - with Lewis Hamilton taking over on day two and Button driving on day three, something that suggests he is no longer in the frame for a race-seat with Sauber.