Giancarlo Fisichella may have given his Force India mechanics a good deal of work to do to repair his car in time for him to be able to take part in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix night race at the weekend – but the experienced Italian repaid them in fine style by running in second place for a handful of laps.
Fisichella took the race start from the pit-lane after crashing his VJM01 twice the previous day – once in practice and once on his opening qualifying effort – and the 35-year-old could have had little hope for the grand prix…until the safety car appeared for the first time to allow for Nelsinho Piquet's stricken Renault to be removed from the Marina Bay Street Circuit's unforgiving barriers on lap 13.
With street circuit specialist Fisichella on a one-stop strategy, the flurry of pit-stops by those ahead of him promoted him to third place – which became second when Nico Rosberg in the lead pitted to take his stop-and-go penalty for having been forced to come in before the pit-lane had officially been opened.
Though the three-time grand prix-winner ultimately slipped down to 14th place at the chequered flag, it was nevertheless an impressive showing, as he expertly fended off the attentions of Robert Kubica in the much quicker BMW-Sauber behind him for lap after lap.
“It was a long, hard race,” the Roman related, “but I have to say we really did the maximum possible. A big thank you to everyone on the team who did such a fantastic job to get the car going again after the accidents [on Saturday], and for giving me a car we could really race with.
“It was great to be back racing again, and I think we had a good strategy that let us move up a few places. In the final few laps I had a small problem, but I'm really pleased we could get to the finish.”
Team-mate Adrian Sutil was less fortunate, losing out with his two-stop strategy when the safety car appeared and then almost being clattered into in the pit-lane by the Ferrari of Felipe Massa – not for the first time this season – before ultimately coming to grief against the tyres in endeavouring to take avoiding action when he came across his Brazilian nemesis once again recovering from a spin on lap 50.
“I think it was a good race,” the young German affirmed afterwards, “as the race pace was good and I felt really confident in the car. We lost a little in the first safety car period as we were a little too late coming into the pits, but after that it was nice to be able to push.
“It was just so unlucky when Felipe spun in front of me and then suddenly pulled away. The way was blocked, but I avoided a crash with him only to go into the barrier myself. It's really disappointing as we've had so much bad luck already this year. It's Fuji next though, which I really enjoy and know I can perform well on.”