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Fisichella beats Schumacher in F1 drivers' poll
January 12, 2003 17:44 IST
Italian Giancarlo Fisichella has beaten Ferrari's five times world champion Michael Schumacher in a poll of his fellow Formula One drivers.
The Jordan racer, who has started 107 races without a victory, shrugged off his reputation as Formula One's most underrated talent to win the 'Drivers' Driver' vote at the F1 Awards.
"Giancarlo is one of the top three and I would say even top two drivers these days," said former commentator and Formula One personality Murray Walker at the annual Grand Prix fundraiser on Saturday.
Fisichella, who turns 30 on Wednesday and will give his new Jordan its first shakedown test at Silverstone the same day, finished last season 11th overall with seven points and expected 2003 to be a crucial year for him.
"The car looks good and the target for me is to win my first race in Formula One and be really competitive," said the Roman, who refuses to give up his dream of one day driving for Ferrari.
"If the Jordan is very competitive this year then I have one more year with Jordan," he said. "But obviously if I have the opportunity to drive for one of the best teams like Ferrari, McLaren or Williams then it would be a good chance."
Schumacher, winner of an unprecedented 11 out of 17 races last season, inevitably claimed the best driver award for the third year in a row.
But the German was not present to accept his 'Bernie' award -- a golden statuette of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone -- at the charity function in aid of F1 medical expert Sid Watkins' Brain and Spine Foundation.
It was left to his once bitter foe, the 1996 champion Damon Hill, to collect the trophy on his behalf from 1992 champion Nigel Mansell.
"I feel that I finally got something that Michael Schumacher got," said Hill, who clashed regularly with the German when he was Schumacher's main title rival.
"Where would you like me to give it to him, Nigel?," the Briton enquired knowingly.
Australian Mark Webber won the best newcomer of the year award for his debut with Minardi while Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, which traditionally starts the season in March, was voted the best venue.
The award was accepted by Minardi's Australian boss Paul Stoddart, who had his finest moment in Formula One at the circuit when Webber finished fifth last year.
Ferrari's dominant F2002 car was a winner while McLaren boss Ron Dennis was given the lifetime achievement award and Formula One race director Charlie Whiting was honoured for his outstanding contribution in 2002.
Dennis assured the audience after being handed the award that he remained as competitive as ever: "I don't know about lifetime achievement. That seems to come at the end of one's career but I have no intention of retiring".
The Head and Neck (HANS) device, due to become compulsory in Formula One this year, won the safety award.