4 Sep 2009

Fisichella off to Ferrari

5:54 am on 4 September 2009

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella says he's in 'seventh heaven' after landing a dream drive with Formula One champions Ferrari.

Ferrari say the 36-year-old Force India driver will replace struggling compatriot Luca Badoer for the last five races of the season and then take over as their official reserve in 2010.

Fisichella will debut at his home grand prix next week and says he can't believe the dream of his life has come true.

Fisichella, who had his first meetings at Maranello today, has longed to drive for Ferrari ever since he first tested for them at the team's private Fiorano track in September 1995.

Since then he has started 226 grands prix for Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault and Force India with three victories.

Force India owner Vijay Mallya says they fully understood Fisichella's position and that for any Italian driver, a Ferrari race seat is a long-held dream and for Giancarlo it is no exception.

Badoer struggled in two races as a stand-in for Brazilian Felipe Massa, who suffered serious injuries when he was hit on the head by debris in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying in July and has been ruled out until 2010.

The test driver, making a comeback after almost a decade away from grand prix racing, qualified last in Valencia and Belgium and was also the last finisher in both races.

A replacement is yet to be confirmed for Force India.