New Sauber driver Giancarlo Fisichella believes that his move to the Swiss team could be the stepping stone he needs to get one of the top drives in Formula One.

Fisichella had a disappointing 2003 for the Jordan-Ford team failing to finish nine times, although he did take a fortuitous first F1 victory in the rain affected Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

This season, Fisichella will team up with young Brazilian Felipe Massa and is hoping for a strong season that will let him move on to bigger and better things.

A dream drive for the Italian would be with the Ferrari team, who have not yet confirmed that Rubens Barrichello will be retained after 2004 to partner Michael Schumacher.

Fisichella could also find himself in the running for the vacant Williams drive, following Juan Pablo Montoya's decision to move to McLaren for 2005. With Ralf Schumacher also yet to sign with the Williams team for 2005, there is a possibility that there could be two drives on offer with the BMW powered outfit, although Fisichella would have to battle with Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Marc Gene who have all been linked with a Williams race seat.

Talking to Reuters, Fisichella explained what his hopes were for the upcoming season and beyond.

"The dream for me is obviously to drive in the future for one of the three top teams - Ferrari, McLaren or Williams," he said.

"So it's very important to do a good season for the Sauber team, score a lot of points."

The Italian already has an agreement with Ferrari to test for the team this season, a result of the close ties between the current F1 champions and Sauber who run re-badged Ferrari engines in their car.

Fisichella has already been told that if an offer comes in from one of the top outfits, team owner Peter Sauber wouldn't stand in his way.

Although he hasn't yet had the chance to drive the new C23, Fisichella was pleased with his first taste of last years car.

"The engine was strong enough, very reliable and especially easy to drive," he told Reuters. "Now I'm looking forward because we will use the same specification as Ferrari, the 2004 engine and for the first time the Ferrari gearbox.

"After last year, anything can happen because the Jordan car was not competitive but I won a race.

"Always at the beginning of the year you say this year is very important for me. But physically and mentally I feel stronger than last year, stronger than the past. This is very important for a driver."

 

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