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DATE News (chronologically)
Fisichella signed for Force India? UPDATE #11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Giancarlo Fisichella has been confirmed as race driver at Force India alongside Adrian Sutil, a move that comes as no surprise.  A full statement is expected later today, that will also confirm Tonio Liuzzi as the official third driver.

01/09/08 (GMM)  The structure of Force India's new driver lineup for 2008 is becoming ever clearer, with sources adamant that Vitantonio Liuzzi will be named official test and reserve driver on Thursday.

Ride-buyer Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella, meanwhile, is similarly yet to be confirmed as Adrian Sutil's race teammate, but the Roman veteran is widely reported to have now inked a contract for 2008.

The Indian newspaper Hindustan Times cited "sources in the team" as reporting on Tuesday that Liuzzi, the former Red Bull and Toro Rosso racer, will be assigned test driver in the official announcement from Mumbai on January 10.

The hardening information is bad news for the likes of Roldan Rodriguez and also Christian Klien, the ex Jaguar and Red Bull driver who left his Honda test post to try out for the Force India vacancy recently.

The Austrian news agency APA agrees that 24-year-old Klien now has "basically no chance" of returning to the grid this year, despite being the "fastest candidate" in the team's post-season tests.

01/08/08 Force India have revealed that they will confirm their 2008 driver lineup on Thursday. The team, who are part-owned by Indian billionaire Dr Vijay Mallya, had originally planned to announce their drivers before Christmas.

01/06/08 (GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella is set to earn 400,000 euros as he races with Force India in 2008, according to the latest reports.

The German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag is the latest authoritative publication to claim that the Roman 34-year-old, who since 2005 has driven for Renault, is set to occupy the sister car alongside Adrian Sutil this season.

However, contrary to speculation that he is bringing 10 million euros in personal sponsorship to the Silverstone based squad, Bild contends that Fisichella will actually claim a modest annual retainer.

"The Italian will be presented officially in Bombay on Thursday," Bild said.  "For 400,000 euro he will become a back marker."

01/04/08 (GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has rubbished reports that he is set to pay 10 million euros for the vacant Force India race seat.

It was reported late last month that the former Renault race winner, who turns 35 in January, has amassed the money to bolster his bid to stay on the formula one grid this year.

The Spanish sports daily Marca also claimed that Roldan Rodriguez is similarly in the running to land the drive because he has a comparable amount of sponsorship backing to offer Vijay Mallya's newly acquired Silverstone based team.

But on his personal website, Fisichella posted a message "especially for all those creative media guys" who have labeled him F1's next pay driver.

"I do not pay to drive, I get paid to drive," the Italian said.  "I do not bring sponsors to the team, the team brings sponsors to me.  (And) if I had 10 million bucks, I'd stay home and watch F1 on TV!"

01/03/08 (GMM)  Another major media source is reporting that ride-buyer Giancarlo Fisichella will become Adrian Sutil's teammate at Force India in 2008.

Just before Christmas, the Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung claimed that the Roman veteran, the Renault refugee and winner of three grands prix, would shortly pen a deal to remain in formula one with the newly acquired Silverstone based team.

Times Now, an English language news channel operated by India's Times Group, now claims that 34-year-old Fisichella was chosen by team boss Vijay Mallya "primarily because of the experience he brings to the team".

Force India has scheduled to announce its drivers for 2008 on January 11 in Mumbai, the Indian national newspaper The Hindu said last week.

12/26/07 (GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has amassed 10 million euros in personal sponsorship support to bolster his bid to race for Force India in 2008, reports in Spain on Wednesday said.

The sports daily 'Marca' claims that the Roman veteran, who will turn 35 next month, will imminently discover if he has been selected by Vijay Mallya to race for the Indian billionaire's newly acquired team.

The sponsorship backing of Roldan Rodriguez, believed to be the other main contender to be Adrian Sutil's new teammate, is similar to Fisichella's, Marca added.

Fisichella completed his first full season of formula one in 1997 for Jordan, the original guise of Mallya's team that is still based at Silverstone (UK).

He returned to Jordan in 2003, where he won his maiden grand prix in Brazil, before winning twice more at Renault in 2005 and 2006.

12/21/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  Giancarlo Fisichella has signed to become Adrian Sutil's teammate at Force India in 2008, an Austrian newspaper reports.

'Kronen Zeitung' disappointingly revealed that the news means countryman Christian Klien, who was also considered a favorite for the race seat, will not make his formula one return next year.

The Silverstone based team has so far branded the Fisichella speculation as merely a rumor, but an official announcement is now imminently expected.

Sutil's manager, Manfred Zimmermann, said they will welcome the appointment of 34-year-old Fisichella, a veteran of nearly 200 grands prix and winner of three.

"He is very fast and very experienced, so it is good for Adrian," he told Kicker.

Zimmermann denies that 24-year-old German Sutil's place for 2008 was ever in doubt.

"The seat was always safe," he said.  "Two weeks ago we were with Vijay Mallya in Monaco and once again he gave us the assurance that Adrian had been the first choice for 2008."

12/19/07 (GMM) A spokeswoman for Force India on Wednesday dismissed as speculation reports that Giancarlo Fisichella has been signed to race for the team in 2008.

Some European media claim that the Roman veteran, who was among several candidates who also tested with the Silverstone based team recently, will definitely line up alongside Adrian Sutil next season after signing a contract.

But Force India's press officer Lucy Nell told the news source IANS: "The news about Giancarlo Fisichella having signed up with Force India is just a rumor and speculation.

"(Team owner) Vijay Mallya has made it clear he would announce the driver line up before Christmas," she added.

Nell, however, did confirm that Sutil, the 24-year-old German, will continue to drive for the team formerly known as Spyker in 2008.

12/18/07 (GMM)  Roldan Rodriguez and Giancarlo Fisichella are high on the list to race alongside Adrian Sutil at Force India in 2008, the Spanish press insists.

Amid European media reports that the newly Vijay Mallya-owned team has already decided on Fisichella, the Renault refugee and winner of three grands prix, the sports daily Marca suggests that Spanish rookie Rodriguez is still in the running.

With a decision and announcement on the topic expected some time this week, Marca claims that Rodriguez, reportedly with several million dollars in sponsorship backing in tow, has now been summoned to the team's Silverstone base.

He is expected to spend several days at the team's UK factory, possibly including a seat fitting for the 2008 car, Marca said.

Among those also hoping for the second Force India seat for 2008 were Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Franck Montagny and Giedo van der Garde.

Although Marca claims that Rodriguez is still a strong possibility for the seat, the newspaper quotes Fisichella's manager Enrico Zanarini as sounding confident that the Roman veteran will race with the team in 2008.

"Now they will make a decision, and we have no problem in waiting for it to happen," he said.

12/16/07 There has yet to be any official indication but the French website AutoMoto365.com is reporting that Giancarlo Fisichella has been signed to drive for the Force India F1 team in 2008. The 34-year-old Italian was dropped by Renault after a disappointing 2007 season. The Roman has been in F1 since he joined Minardi in 1996. He moved to Jordan the following year and then signed for Benetton in 1998. The next four years produced inconsistent results including several races which might have been won without mistakes being made. Fisichella moved back to Jordan for 2002 and 2003 and fluked a win in Brazil after he ended up ahead of his rivals when the race was stopped during a pit stop sequence. His only other points finish that year was seventh place at Indianapolis. Fisichella moved to Sauber in 2004 and did well against Felipe Massa and this convinced Renault to take him back again in 2005 as teammate to Fernando Alonso. A win in Melbourne proved to be the high point for Fisichella but he rarely matched Alonso after that. The 2006 season was a similar story with a victory in Malaysia although he did finish fourth in the World Drivers' Championship. In 2007 he became the Renault lead driver and in the early races, Fisichella obtained scored better results as Kovalainen struggled to find his feet. By the end of the season, however, Kovalainen had clearly gained the advantage. Bernie Ecclestone recently said that it was time for Fisichella to retire.

Force India F1 has some sensible and experienced people in the team but some of the new management brought in by owner Vijay Mallya do not seem to know much about the sport and it may be that Fisichella's higher profile has swayed their opinion. Fisichella's chief rival for the drive is Tonio Liuzzi, who seemed to offer rather more in terms of potential and ambition. The fact that Liuzzi may end up without a drive in F1 is absurd in that he was as good as the much-vaunted Sebastian Vettel in the second half of the season when the two were together at Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The danger for the team is that older drivers can end up only as much as is necessary to stay ahead of their teammates rather than forcing the pace. Adrian Sutil is the man that Fisichella will have to beat and his talents as an F1 driver remain to fully proved. He showed well against Christijan Albers at the start of this year but when Sakon Yamamoto arrived, Sutil did not do as well against the Japanese driver as he ought to have done. This had a significant effect on the level of interest in Sutil from the top teams.

The big question at the moment is whether the story is correct. The AutoMoto365.com website is owned and operated by the company NTNZ, a web firm that was started by Nicolas Todt, son of Ferrari's Jean Todt. Ferrari is, of course, the engine supplier of the Force India F1 team.

This connection may not explain how the website sourced the story - and reported it with such confidence - but it is interesting nonetheless. Grandprix.com



(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella is expected to join the growing list of established formula one drivers to test for Force India in the upcoming winter period.

The winner of three grands prix, who is looking increasingly unlikely to retain his Renault seat in 2008, will probably join fellow veteran Ralf Schumacher at the wheel of a Silverstone built car in December, numerous sources - including Diario AS, Die Welt and Sport Bild - are reporting.

Force India, formerly Spyker, has already confirmed that Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi will test at Barcelona this week alongside young hopefuls including Giedo van der Garde and Roldan Rodriguez.

Rodriguez told the Spanish news agency EFE that the addition of even more well-known names like Fisichella makes his quest for a race seat next year "slightly more complicated".

"It seems that everyone wants to come to this team," the Spanish GP2 driver said.

23-year-old Rodriguez admits that testing on day one (Tuesday) at Barcelona is a disadvantage compared to his rivals who will run on Wednesday and Thursday.

"But it's the day that I have and there is nothing to do about it.  I am sure the team will take this into account, anyway," he added.

To Sport Bild, meanwhile, Ralf Schumacher's manager would not confirm reports that the former Toyota driver is lined up to test for Force India next month.

"I can not comment," Hans Mahr insisted.

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