BIRMINGHAM: Italian Giancarlo Fisichella has beaten Ferrari’s five-time 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 F1’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 F1 personality Murray Walker at the annual Grand Prix fundraiser on Saturday.
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 he was not present to accept his “Bernie” award – a golden statuette of F1 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 Schumacher got,” said Hill, who clashed regularly with the German when he was Schumacher’s main title rival.
Australian Mark Webber won the best newcomer of the year award for his debut with Minardi while Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit was voted the best venue.