Atlas F1 News Service

Fisichella Baffled by Raikkonen's Appointment

Wednesday November 14th, 2001

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella has revealed he was very surprised by McLaren's decision to appoint young Finn Kimi Raikkonen as the replacement for two-time champion Mika Hakkinen.

Fisichella, who will move from Benetton-Renault to Jordan next year, said that he was surprised that McLaren opted for Raikkonen rather than himself, Jarno Trulli or Jacques Villeneuve, who were all available.

"I have no idea why they made that choice, because there are a lot of good drivers around - like Trulli, Villeneuve and myself," Fisichella told Motorsport News.

"I'm very surprised that they didn't come and speak to me. But they didn't speak to anyone, they went straight to Raikkonen. They have paid a lot of money for him - enough for Sauber's engine - and I don't know why."

Finn Raikkonen landed the McLaren drive after a impressive debut year with Sauber, but Fisichella felt his 2001 season was the best of his career despite Benetton's problems.

"My first year with Jordan was probably the best year for my reputation. I was quicker than Ralf Schumacher and scored more points than him," Fisichella added.

"But I think I did my best year this year - 2001 was a difficult year, and fighting with Minardi wasn't fantastic mentally or physically, but I learned a lot with a difficult car. Now I'm much stronger mentally."

Published at 17:44:36 GMT

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