Former F1 racer, Giancarlo Fisichella, is confident he can make a mark in the inaugural i1 Super Series.
The championship, which commences later this month in Malaysia, is a single-make racing championship taking in ten races at five venues, with a field of eighteen drivers.
The champion, come the series conclusion in early March, will win a prize fund of $2 million USD.
Although an Indian-based series, Fisichella is one of a number of international drivers invited to the series – including Heinz-Harald Frentzen and former world champion Jacques Villeneuve – however the Italian was keen to emphasise his desire to be competing.
“I always had a special relationship with India since my Force India days, so when I received the invitation, I could not refuse it. It is also good to keep fit by racing and the i1 Super Series plays a great role in attracting top drivers.”
Since he left Formula 1 at the end of 2009, Fisichella has been competing in the Le Mans Series (GTE Pro category) alongside Gianmaria Bruni in the powerful AF Corse machine, taking the category title last year.
With only 260 bhp emanating from the 1500cc Powertec engine, the i1 Super Series Radical SR3 is no match for Fisichella’s championship winning Ferrari 458, but despite the drastic difference in terms of power and grip, the 38-year-old had switched machinery with little fuss.
“Recently I had to change my style from F1 to GT cars and had no problems adapting myself to the characteristics of the Radical, which is actually a good, fun machine.
“I immediately found speed and enjoyed it. [It’s] quite neutral in handling – good grip and very predictable.”
A recent test at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi saw Fisichella register the 2nd best time, only five-hundredths shy of top-man Frentzen, with India’s Karun Chandhok 3rd, just ahead of racing veteran Jean Alesi in 4th spot. Villeneuve did not partake in the opening test.
With the field spread by relatively small margins, the Italian is confident the series will serve viewers well, however when asked if prior venue experience will give him an edge, he was sceptical.
“Not really, but having the experience always helps. Times will be very close in qualifying and for this, racing will be very competitive, which should be good for all motorsport fans.
“We are racing for trophies and for money and the show will benefit from it.”
The i1 Super Series kicks off at Sepang International Circuit on January 21st, with a second race a day later. Following that, the series travels to Bahrain (February 3rd-4th), Qatar (February 10th-11th), New Delhi (February 25th-26th) and Abu Dhabi (March 9th-10th). For more information on the i1 Super Series, check out their website.
Giancarlo Fisichella will be joining Risi Competizione for this month’s Daytona 24 Hours, before taking up his regular position with the AF Corse squad for the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Sebring (US) in mid-March, with the Le Mans Series opener at Paul Ricard taking place in April.
My sincere thanks to Enrico Zanarini at Movie & Sport Management for facilitating the original interview.