Good testing day for Force India drivers

Force India, the Formula One team co-owned by Vijay Mallya, has completed a successful 2nd day of winter testing at Circuit de Jerez, Spain.

updated: December 07, 2007 13:34 IST
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Force India, the Formula One team co-owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has completed a successful second day of winter testing at Circuit de Jerez, Spain, with both Giancarlo Fisichella and Christian Klein finishing ninth and seventh respectively on the timesheets.

"The team was able to complete its programme. Both Giancarlo and Christian completed 188 laps in total as they worked on general set-up, chassis development and evaluation of the slick Bridgestone Potenza tyres," a statement from Force India said on Thursday.

"As per yesterday's (Wednesday) test, both drivers performed solidly over the day and were very evenly matched as they pushed on with their programmes. Klien was the quicker on slick tyres, while Giancarlo was marginally faster on grooved," said the statement.

Fisichella clocked 1:20.407 min as compared to 1:21.424 he had set on slick tyres Tuesday, while Klien's best was 1:20.187.

Meanwhile, the top six drivers, led by Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) were all in the same second. Hamilton was the quickest with a 1:19.371 secs, followed by David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing, 1:19.421), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari, 1:19.779), Felipe Massa (Ferrari, 1:19.828), Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren, 1:19.887) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (Renault, 1:19.982).

Interestingly, Fisichella, the 34-year old Italian, driving for Renault was a distant eighth in the 2007 drivers championship, and is, as of now, without a contract in place for the 2008 season.

In 11 years and 196 starts, Fisichella has scored only three wins besides 15 podiums.

Likewise, Ralf Schumacher, the 32-year old younger brother of seven times World champion Michael Schumacher, had a mediocre 2007 season driving for Toyota and was 16th with five points, behind team-mate Jarno Trulli (8th, 21 points).

Ralf, who completed 10 years in Formula One, was reportedly the third highest paid driver on the grid with a salary of $20 million as against Fisichella's $10 million.

Mallya had a stake in the Toyota team before he bought over Spyker and renamed it Force India whose driver line-up is likely to be announced later this week.

At this point, it is being speculated whether Force India is in a position to afford either Ralf or Fisichella in view of the salaries they commanded in 2007 unless the drivers agree for a drastic cut in their pay packets.