Debut & Minardi (1996)
Fisichella made his F1 debut back in 1996 for the Minardi Team, however the young Italian was not able to complete his first season in F1 as Minardi required a driver that could bring sponsorship money to the team. Thus Giancarlo was replaced by Giovanni Lavaggi
However he did manage to impress enough to gain a race seat at the Jordan team for 1997. He managed to out score German team mate Ralf Schumacher as well as gain his first ever podium finish at that years Canadian GP. Other impressive drives saw him finish 2nd at the 1997 Belgium GP. A maiden F1 win looked to be on the cards at the German GP, but a badly timed puncture denied him the chance of victory. Yet he still managed to sign a deal to drive for Benetton from 1998.
Fisichella teamed up with Austrian driver Alex Wurz, but the Benetton car was not as strong as it had been in previous year. The Italian did manage to come a way with two 2nd place finishes in Canada & Monaco. He took his maiden Pole Position at the Austrian GP, but a collision with Jean Alesi took away any chance of a strong result. With the overall performance of Benetton slipping, Fisichella was not able to press his advantage a score points on a regular basis, thus slipping to 9th overall in the Driver’s Standings.
1999 & 2000 proved to be an all too familiar story for Fisichella at Benetton, with a lack of development the team struggled late on in the season but the Italian did mange to beat his team mate Wurz consecutively. Some surprise podiums also came along for the Italian, but a chance for his first win slipped away at the 1999 European GP when he spun out of the lead.
2001 saw the Italian joined at Benetton by British hot shot Jenson Button. However by this point the Benetton team had slipped to a back field team, battling Minardi & Prost. Some late season improvements did see the team take a 4th & 5th place finish in Germany & a 3rd place podium for Fisichella at the Belgium GP.
Jordan Return (2002-2003)
However Fisichella decided to move back to Jordan for the 2002 season. The 2002 Jordan proved to be even more uncompetitive that Fisi’s Benetton for 2001, as a result the Italian was only able to score 7 points all year, finishing a dismal 11th overall in the Standings.
2003 Fisi remained at Jordan and the season got off to much the same start as he had finished 2002. But in the highly chaotic, dramatic & rain socked Brazilian GP Fisichella was able to take his maiden career victory in F1. He beat Kimi Raikkonen in a race that was red flagged due to a massive crash involving Mark Webber & Fernando Alonso. However that and his 7th place finish at the US GP proved to be the only highlights of a miserable season for the Italian.
2004 saw Fisi move to the Sauber team, hoping for better results and improved performance from the Swiss team. A solid if unspectacular season saw Fisi finish consistently in the points and out pace his younger team mate Felipe Massa.
Giancarlo moved to Renault for 2005 to partner rising Spanish star Fernando Alonso. The season got off to a great start for the Italian who not only took Pole Position at the season opener in Australian but also the race win. Fisi retired from the next 3 races and was left playing second fiddle to Alonso. He would only collect 2 more podium finishes in Italy & Japan. He finished a distant 5th and 58 points which was less than half of the points his team mate collect on way to the World title.
2006 was more of the same story. Again a good start saw Fisichella take victory at the Malaysian GP, but he simply could not match his team mate Alonso on performance. He was consistent and brought the car home for regular point’s finishes, which helped Renault secure the Constructors Championship, but it was nothing spectacular. He collected 4 other podium finishes in 2006, all 3rd places at Spain, USA, China & Japan.
2007 saw Fisi assume team leader after the departure of Fernando Alonso to McLaren. His new rookie team mate Heikki Kovalainen soon eclipsed the experienced Italian and out performed him. But the Renault was nowhere near as competitive as it had been the previous years and Fisi was unable to score even a podium finish in 2007, his best result was 4th in the Monaco GP. He was also disqualified from the Canadian GP after exiting the pits whilst the red pit lane was closed.
Force India (2008-2009)
2008 saw Fisichella move to Force India (formally the Jordan team) after being dropped by Renault. He was joined their by German youngster Adrian Sutil. However Fisi was unable to score a single point all year, even though the odd chance did appear. His best result came at the Spanish GP where he finished 10th.
Fisi remained with Force India into 2009, still looking for the teams’ maiden point’s finish, which eventually came at the Belgium GP. Fisichella magnificently and rather unexpectedly took Pole Position, his first since 2006. He went onto battle with Kimi Raikkonen throughout the race a finish an amazing 2nd. This marked not only the team’s maiden points but their maiden podium as well. Rumors had it that Fisichella would soon switch to Ferrari after the team became impressed with the Italians drive in Belgium.
Just prior to the Italian GP the rumors became truth and Fisichella did indeed swap to Ferrari for the remainder of 2009. However the Italians dream to drive a prancing horse soon turned sour. The Ferrari proved a very difficult car to drive and Fisi struggled to get to grips with it. He was unable to score any points and his best was only a 9th in Italy. He was confirmed as the team’s tester going in 2010, but remained on the look out for a race seat.