If Giorgio Pantano wins the GP2 championship should he get an F1 drive?

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The GP2 championship has helped several top F1 drivers get into the championship in the three years it’s been running. Every GP2 champion is currently racing in F1: Nico Rosberg (Williams), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Timo Glock (Toyota).

Giorgio Pantano is leading the championship at the half-way point. But this year is his seventh in F1’s feeder category and he has already had 14 Grand Prix starts.

If he does win this year’s title, should he get another shot at Formula 1?

Pantano had his first test in F3000 (which later became GP2) in 1999. Two years later he had his first season in the championship, winning the finale at Monza.

The following year the Italian driver was second with three wins and stayed on for a third season in 2003, finishing third this time with a pair of wins.

In 2004 he got his Formula 1 debut with Jordan. But it came late in the life of the team and was heavily dependent on support from Pantano’s sponsors. When problems developed with that he was replaced at the Canadian Grand Prix by Timo Glock. He took his seat back after that race but losty it again to Glock for the last three races of the year.

(Glock also later moved to GP2 and won the 2007 championship and is now with Toyota).

Pantano ‘returned’ to the new GP2 championship in 2005, placing sixth for Super Nova without winning a race. After another two season he is still in the championship this year, making him the most experienced driver in the series by a considerable margin.

He has started a total of 102 races over seven years in a category where most drivers seldom spend more than two years.

I’m not aware that any of the current F1 teams have expressed interest in running Pantano in 2009. He has previously tested for Benetton in 2000 (now Renault), McLaren in 2001 and Williams in 2003.

If he wins the GP2 championship, should he follow Rosberg, Hamilton, Glock and the rest into F1?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “If Giorgio Pantano wins the GP2 championship should he get an F1 drive?”

  1. If he does not get a ride he should come to the states and run on the IRL. The best that could happen to him is run the Indy 500 and grab some glory before retirement.Seven years in GP2?? thats enough and the writing is on the wall

  2. Should he be in F1? The first consideration is who would want him? Then consider there are others more deserving. I’d rather see Davidson or Klien return, or bring back Justin Wilson, they’ve already earned a seat. We don’t pay to watch wannabees in training!

  3. Talking about others more deserving, its notable that Lucas Di Grass went back mid-season to GP2 and, in only two weekends, scored two 2nd places in the Feature Races, and a 2nd and a 4th in the sprints, lying fourth in the standings…

    What was that, after all? Was he more clever than Kovalainen and Piquet, and couldn’t stand waiting a whole year with too few F1 test, or was he sent away?

  4. Pantano has found himself in the “enviable” position as an experienced mercenary for hire, & his not alone, Pizzonia attempted the same thing.

    GP2 teams were encouraged by the promoters (on the threat of losing their long term franchises)to be running quick drivers who may not have a full budget. There has been a move to finding team sponsors or equity partners e.g Barwa International’s link up with Campos.

    As a highly seasoned front-runner in F3000/GP2 I think it’s great that he can find employment…….alas I don’t think it is going to get him back into F1.

    In another era he would have been trying a career in the States.He did a one-off for Ganassi on a road course & tried to find a berth in Champ car series.

  5. Robert McKay
    13th July 2008, 11:19

    What a good question to ask.

    Of course it largely depends on his rivals, I think. Both Grosjean and Senna are better bets longer term but neither is close to being the finished article and should both have another season in GP2. Bar Pantano and those names there’s noone else close to being ready to make the step up.

    I have great admiration for Pantano. Clearly he’s a bit like those teams that come up from the Championship in England and are too good for that division but not quite good enough to be in the Premiership, and kind of bounce around the two divisions in a sort of no-mans-land.

    He’s carved out a successful career in F3000 and GP2 and just because he got one short crack at F1 with a struggling team doesn’t mean he should just give up and stop racing. He’s clearly good enough to run consistently at the front of the second tier. If he wins it by a decent margin I’d give him one shot (STR’s vacated seat for Vettel). If he only just wins it from Senna then I’d give Senna the drive.

    I think Pantano knows his limitations, which is a strength rather than a weakness. Sometimes you’ve got to be realistic about your level and potential. I don’t think just because you’re never going to be the best you shouldn’t just aim to be quite good at something.

  6. Difficult one. His turn in F1 was brief and disappointing, but he’s doing well this year. It’s not whether he’s good enough, but whether he’s good enough to take a seat from an existing F1 driver, and I can’t see a vacancy that he would fill.

  7. I would rather see Klien or Davidson return to Formula One race seats than Pantano get one, in my honest opinion. Those people already earned their credentials.

    But unlike Pantano’s rivals, Senna and Di Grassi, he looks like the kind of driver that could certainly handle racing in F1 next year. The others may need more time, but then again, jumping into an F1 race seat certainly didn’t harm Nakajima….this is a difficult one.

  8. Adam Dennehey
    13th July 2008, 15:11

    Some intresting comments guys, i was thinking the same thing the other week whilst watching GP2. Pantano isn’t in my eyes a F1 driver and was simply outclassed by Nick Heidfled (which wasn’t suprising) in the Jordan in 2004. However perhaps alike Damon Hill/Nigel Mansell he’s a late maturing driver, im not comparing him 2 those 2 gr8s in terms of driving and winning championships but there r some guys who emerge at around 30 and come in F1.

    Pantano has driven well this year but if he was that good surley he’d be on a developmental contract wiv one of the big teams, his only chance of an F1 drive is to win the title by a huge margin like Robert says.

    There are sadly however younger and better (in terms of F1 scales) in guys like Di Grassi and De Grosjean and of course Bruno Senna, who i believe will drive for STR next year or at the very least get a testing drive wiv them. Daniel mentioned about Di Grassi and the guy will drive in F1 in 1-2yrs. Has a very good attitude for a young guy and after months testing iv Renault thought he’d go back to GP2 to race instead of testing. Renault clearly gave him the thumbs up to do so and if anything were to happen to Alonso/Piquet that ruled them out of a race then Di Grassi would get the call up now if im being honest. Very solid driver and dosn’t take risks which is rare in terms of a young driver.

    In conclusion Pantano unless he wins the title by a margin (which he wont) wont be in F1 next year, a drive in America though as several have said wud look far better.

    Agreed wiv Smith in regards 2 Klien/Davidson getting another crack at F1, however Klien will hav less choice wiv his row wiv Red Bull

  9. As I said on my blog this week, I reckon Giorgio Pantano is one of the canniest drivers in GP2 at the moment. Is he F1 material though? It’s difficult to say. If you were to throw all the GP2 guys in an F1 car at short notice, Pantano would probably hit the ground running. But others like Senna, Buemi, maybe Grosjean and Di Grassi, have better long-term prospects.

    If Pantano did move back to F1, he wouldn’t be the first guy to do it as we have seen from Glock. But the difference with Glock was that he was regularly testing F1 cars before getting a race seat. Pantano, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have attracted any attention from F1 whatsoever. I do think that it slightly unfair, but that’s the way it goes. Like I say, there are other GP2 drivers who probably have better long term prospects even though Pantano looks pretty handy at the moment.

  10. This would be an easier question to answer if Formula 1 still had Super Aguri and Prodrive.

    The lack of seats makes the amount of available talent a bit frustrating, doesn’t it?

  11. Indeed an interesting situation- and as chunter points out, the small number of seats makes it tough for any driver to get a spot.

    Of all the drivers currently in GP2, Pantano may be the most ready to come into an F1 team and contribute right away. After all, if the guy’s still doing well after an apparently rocky career, he must have something working for him. So, I fell he should at least be considered highly by some teams for at least a test seat.

    The tough thing is that he dose have age against him, and with so few seats to go around, most teams would be hard-pressed to bring him aboard when younger, more exotic talents are rising up the ranks. If he dosen’t break back into F1, he should indeed look at the IndyCar series, as perhaps he could establish something there.

  12. Easy one , NO .

  13. I think Pantano leading if more a show of the lack of quality in the GP2 field this season. A few of the drivers have potential but are still too raw for F1.
    I’m sure Pantano would do kind of ok in an F1 team, but he ‘s not really F1 material…
    The jury is still out on Glock, he still needs to prove that he deserves the second chance that he got.

  14. is, not if… in the first sentence…

  15. By posting this comment, I am fully aware that I’m risking any credibility I have with all of my fellow posters.clare me completely insane and way over the edge, read on…..

    Imagine Piquet reverts back to his slop form and Renault, despite his huge financial backing, decides to ditch him. Who, then, for a team-mate to Alonso? I’d say Davidson, but I’d hope he ends up in a better situation than Alonso’s number two. Roman Grosjean, most likley, but if Giorgio beats him soundly for the GP2 title…..

    Pair up Pantano with Alonso in 2009.

    Crazy, yes, and I know it will never happen, but consider….
    – He’d be dirt-cheap to sign, and there would be no question he’d be the number-two man in the team. Essentially, another Fisi in some ways.
    – He’d bring a great deal of racing experience, even if it’s not much F1, but it would be more than many other rookies.
    – If he succedes, great- keep him for a year or two and let him contribute to the WCC. If he flops, just write him off and bring in Big John.

    Again, it’s crazy, and it’s about a million to one odds that it would happen. Then again, for those of you here in the U.S., I would suggest you see a shrink just a few years ago if you told me Brett Favre would be on bad terms with the Packers, and could end up playing for the Bears or Vikings this season….

  16. Yeah! He well deserves an F1 drive. I’m sure Bourdais will lose his STR Ferrari seat nxt year and he can replace him. We already know that Bruno Senna is almost certainly joining STR nxt year so Senna/Pantano would actually be a briliant combonation.

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