Giancarlo Fisichella: Man Among Machines
In a sport where emotion is overshadowed by a cold devotion to success, it is easy to forget that somewhere inside the Formula One racing cars, under the layers of Nomex, hiding behind the helmets, there are humans.
In just over one week's time, the Italian Grand Prix looks to serve as a reminder to fans who have long been subject to the bleak, corporate personalities that have made up the pinnacle of motorsport for years.
On September 11, Giancarlo Fisichella will take the wheel of the Ferrari F60 for the first time, creating a feel-good story for Formula One for the first time in a while. For Fisichella, this is the culmination of a lifetime's work, the fulfilling of a dream far stronger than the ones most of us had in childhood.
Sure, most Grand Prix drivers would love to race for Ferrari, donning the red overalls and becoming engulfed in a legacy that spans many decades. None, however, share the same passion for the Italian stable that Giancarlo has displayed. Fisichella has openly admitted he would have left any of the teams he raced for (including more-than-capable squads like Renault) if Ferrari were to call.
In a strange turn of events that started with an unfortunate injury to Felipe Massa, continued with the cancelled return of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, and ended with the miserable-at-best showings of Luca Badoer, Ferrari did just that.
Perhaps it's most telling that Fisichella, a very competent driver (as shown by his second-place at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend), has elected to test for the Scuderia in 2010 when he easily could have found a race seat with another team.
With the tools to get the job done, and the support of the Italian crowd, Giancarlo looks to stand on the top step of the podium for the fourth time in his career. Those not singing "Il Canto degli Italiani" in the event of such a result will be in the minority.
It's certainly hard to imagine someone like Ron Dennis belting out "God Save the Queen" on the podium, isn't it?
Raw emotion and loyal devotion simply define the Roman racer. Even as his career neared an end, even as many viewed him too old to continue for many more seasons, Giancarlo carried on, working as hard as any driver on the track, and doing it all for naught, accumulating a total of 0 points up until his podium in Belgium due to his car's lack of strength.
Hard work, not connections to an oil or telecommunications company, earned Fisichella the most-coveted seat in Formula One. With just five races left in his career, the Italian has no choice but to make the most of the golden opportunity he waited 36 years to receive.
If Giancarlo Fisichella is victorious in Monza, more than a driver will win. A real, authentic human being will, too.
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