PETALING JAYA: Sauber Petronas team principal Peter Sauber chose Giancarlo Fischella for the drive this season because he felt that the Italian is one of the best drivers at the moment in F1 racing.
Giancarlo has been on top of my list for several years and I am extremely pleased that I was finally able to sign him, said Sauber.
Fisichella won his first GP race in the third round of last year's championships at Interlagos, Brazil.
This season also saw the return of Brazilian Felipe Massa, who spent last season as the test driver for Ferrari.
The situation with Felipe is different. When he drove for us in 2002, he showed his exceptional speed. However, he was still very young and inexperienced, particularly on technical knowledge, said Sauber.
I recommended him to accept the job as a test driver for Ferrari and I'm convinced that he is now in a much better position to exploit his potential.
Both drivers were hired to replace Nick Heldfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who finished in 14th and 11th respectively in the drivers' standings last season.
Sauber Petronas had 19 points and were sixth in the constructors' standings last year. There were better the year before. They had a seat free and it was worth trying to look into. The working relations with Ferrari had also been interesting, said Fisichella.
Above all, the working programme was very appealing with a jewel in the list, which is the newly-operational wind tunnel.
As for Massa, it was a tempting offer to drive for Sauber Petronas.
We have learned more about the C23 (engine) and we know what we can do to make it quicker. The Bridgestone tyre performance seems to be consistent and this is encouraging for the rest of the season, said Massa.
However, both drivers did not fare well in the opening race in Melbourne.
Fisichella finished 10th while Massa was forced to retire when the engine blew up on lap 44.
After the way my car went in Melbourne I'm feeling optimistic. Our package is improving all the time, as we learn more about setting it up, said Fischella.
Said Massa: Usually the engine is very reliable. It may be linked to over-revving the engine.