Giancarlo Fisichella has revealed that his Christmas wish is for a changing of the guard in Formula One, particularly if the revised rulebook allows his Force India team to get among those fighting for points on a regular basis.
While seasoned enough to know that chasing victories, even in a year of major upheaval, is unlikely, Fisichella remains confident that the changes to aerodynamic and tyre rules, plus Force India's new alliance with McLaren and Mercedes, could allow the Silverstone outfit to be more of a threat to the top eight in 2009.
'I'm looking forward to it," the Italian admitted to the team's official website, "With the new rules, it could all change, especially with the slick tyres and different downforce levels. I think it's very important to build a good car for those rules, and to try to run as soon as possible with the new car with the slicks.
"With the new partnerships, I think it's a great opportunity for us. We have a better chance [to take a step forward] than this year for sure, but nobody knows how things will work out with the new rules. We'll only see that in Australia…"
Joining Force India from Renault may have prolonged his Formula One career, but was also something of a culture shock for a driver used to running with a race- - and title- - winning team, but Fisichella insists that he was now disheartened by what he found at a squad that had changed hands three times in as many seasons, before ending under the patronage of Dr Vijay Mallya.
Neither the Italian or second year team-mate Adrian Sutil managed to score points, although both ran in the top eight on occasion, and the team was only kept off the bottom of the constructors' table by the Super Aguri outfit which went out of business after just four races, but Fisichella acknowledges that, given their respective resources, Force India did as well as some of the more illustrious operations ahead of it.
"It was a difficult season, and we knew it would be," he accepted, "At the beginning of the season, in some places, we were very close to getting to the top 16 [in qualifying] and also reasonably close to the points, quite close to manufacturer teams such as Honda and to other people. We went in the right direction sometimes, but we lost a bit of direction later in the season and, in the last few races, we stopped development of the 2008 car so it was very difficult to keep pushing.
"The best position was tenth in Barcelona, and it was a good race as we were fighting for the position rather than being there by retirements further up the field. In Singapore, I was third for a few laps, then second - and, for one lap, I was the leader, which made a pleasant change! Monza was the best qualifying of the year for sure, as getting to Q2 was really an achievement, particularly in the difficult conditions. In Valencia, I was just 1.3secs slower than the quickest [time]. It was a very good lap, but unfortunately I was only 18th. Four or five years ago, when you were 1.3secs slower than the quickest, you were fourth or fifth!
"We were unlucky not to be able to score some points for the team [and], for sure, it's not as you'd hope, but we have to hope that, when the chances come in 2009, we will be there. We knew qualifying was the weak point and we're trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. It was tough mentally but, every time I sit in a car, I do my best – it's your job, so you have to do as well as you can. I just hope that we have a better car for 2009!"