Giancarlo Fisichella lifts lid on ‘political’ Fernando Alonso and No.2 status reaction

Thomas Maher
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella pictured with Fernando Alonso in 2006.

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella pictured with Fernando Alonso in 2006.

Giancarlo Fisichella has opened up on his past relationship with former teammate Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard enjoys a revitalised F1 career.

While Alonso is enjoying a late F1 career upswing as he has snatched six podium finishes from the first eight races in 2023, former teammate Giancarlo Fisichella is watching on from the sidelines following his departure from F1.

Fisichella is now a long-time Ferrari racing driver in sportscars, having seen out his F1 career as a stand-in for the injured Felipe Massa at the Scuderia in late 2009.

Giancarlo Fisichella: Fernando Alonso can win races this year

Prior to that, and a short stint at Force India in which Fisichella scored a second place at Spa-Francorchamps, he had raced with the Renault outfit – including a few years as Fernando Alonso’s teammate as the Spaniard clinched the titles in 2005 and 2006.

Fisichella had been a hot prospect in Formula 1 in the years before joining Renault but struggled to keep up with Alonso during their two seasons together.

Now 50 years old, Fisichella’s continuing participation in high-level motorsport means he’s particularly impressed by just how well his former teammate is doing at the peak in Formula 1.

“I am impressed,” he told Tom Clarkson on the Chequered Flag podcast.

“But I knew that because, Fernando, you know, how quick he is. He can take the same speed and he has much more experience than in the past.

“Fernando is in one of the best moments of his career and he can win a few races this year with a good car. I’m happy for him and I wish all the best for him.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Andretti and General Motors boost as Liberty Media discuss hunt for 11th F1 team

Christian Horner thinks Sebastian Vettel will be hurt by Aston Martin’s success

Reflecting on their time together at Renault, Fisichella picked out Alonso as being his strongest-ever teammate – the Italian had raced alongside the likes of Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button, Alexander Wurz, Takuma Sato, and Heikki Kovalainen, as well as a few races alongside Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.

“Fernando was my strongest teammate,” he said.

“Fernando was very good in all circumstances; low grip, high grip, and especially in the race, he was very, very consistent and focused.

“He didn’t make a lot of mistakes and was good in communication with the team, with the radio. He was also political, but that’s part of the job. So Fernando was a very strong teammate.”

Giancarlo Fisichella: I had a good friendship with Fernando Alonso

It’s in Alonso’s mastery of the political game that has helped him secure his leadership of any team he’s raced for, and Fisichella said he was quickly able to use his influence within Renault to establish himself over Fisichella – but that didn’t cause any friction, even as Fisichella came to terms with the fact he was the number two.

“In the team, he was quite strong. [Flavio] Briatore was his manager (and the team boss),” he said.

“The main sponsor was Telefonica, which was a Spanish sponsor. So he was quite strong within the team.”

As Alonso set about showing up Fisichella in equal machinery, the Italian said he never felt as though Renault had unfairly prioritised the younger driver.

“No, I think once you lose the possibility to fight for the championship, you need to work for the team, for your teammate,” he said.

“We worked together very well. We were sharing telemetry, ideas, and problems with the car. Before the race, sometimes we were playing cards with Flavio Briatore and our physio. It was so fun.

“It was important for the atmosphere in the team, to work well together, to have a good friendship with your teammate. Once we were on the track, we were so focused. It was important to have a good teammate like Fernando as a reference, or for him having me as a reference on lap time. It was always a good point to find the limit for each other.”