With the calendar announced and the teams lined up, the roster of drivers is taking shape for the inaugural United SportsCar Championship. And while there hasn't been a large number of former F1 drivers – much less grand prix winners – lining up for the series, there have been some.
Risi Competizione, the team that typically fields Ferrari entrants in American GT racing, has just announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will be driving for them in the United SportsCar Championship this season. The veteran of 231 grands prix has driven for Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault, Force India and Ferrari. In the case of the latter, he filled in for an injured Felipe Massa, and remains a Ferrari factory driver. Over the course of his fourteen years on the grid, he won three grands prix and landed on the podium 19 times.
That makes Fisichella, who just turned 41 on Tuesday, the most accomplished former F1 driver to sign on for the American series, but he's not the only one. Other drivers already lined up include David Brabham, Max Papis and Christian Fittipaldi – each of whom contested a handful of grands prix in the 1990s – as well as Sebastian Bourdais, who drove for Scuderia Toro Rosso after dominating in Champ Cars for four years and left F1 in 2009 along with Fisichella, who currently looks to be the only driver lined up for this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona who's won a grand prix or even scored a podium finish.
While Brabham, Papis, Fittipaldi and Bourdais will all be driving in the top-tier Prototype class, Fisichella will be trying to make his mark in the GTLM class. We'll be watching to see whether he can add that trophy to the class titles he's already accrued in the Le Mans Series, the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans itself in the five years since leaving F1.
Risi Competizione will be representing the iconic Ferrari brand in the manufacturer-led GT LM category of the new Tudor United Sportscar Championship. The Houston-based, North American GT stalwart will be entering the Italian marque's only full-season entry in the class of 12, and the team's red F458 Italia will carry its long-time race number 62. Risi will also be working closely alongside its friend and ally Krohn Racing in the North American Endurance Championship rounds.
With the opening round of the championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, between January 23 and 26 Risi Competizione is pleased to announce an all-star roster of driving talent. Scuderia Ferrari F1 test driver Giancarlo Fisichella and ALMS 2013 race-winner Matteo Malucelli will anchor the line-up for the year, and will be joined for the twice-round-the-clock endurance classic by FIA World GT Champion Gianmaria Bruni and 2013 Risi driver Olivier Beretta, a former winner of the Daytona 24.
All four drivers have driven with Risi Competizione previously, and all have extensive race-winning experience with the F458 Italia. Italians Fisichella and Bruni have for the last two years successfully competed for Ferrari in the FIA World Endurance Championship, while both have raced in the USA with Risi many times over the last few years – Bruni winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the team and finishing 2nd in the 2010 ALMS GT Drivers championship.
Malucelli, also from Italy, made his debut in North American racing last year and together with Beretta claimed victory at VIR with strong performances contributing to further podiums at Sebring and Petit Le Mans.