Giorgio Pantano beats Bruno Senna to the GP2 title – but will he reach F1?

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Giorgio Pantano has become the fourth GP2 champion in this afternoon’s feature race.

Pantano beat Bruno Senna to win the title which, so far, has been a passport to F1.

But while Senna has been linked to several teams, there has been so sign Pantano is about to return to F1, where he raced briefly in 2004. Does he deserve an F1 seat?

The past three GP2 champions have all gone straight into F1:

2005: Nico Rosberg (Williams)
2006: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2007: Timo Glock (Toyota)

And several other GP2 drivers have made it into F1. Scott Speed (2006), Heikki Kovalaien (2007), Kazuki Nakajima (2007) and Nelson Piquet Jnr (2008).

Pantano started most of the 2004 F1 season for Jordan. That came after several years in F3000, the predecessor to GP2. Since then he has started every GP2 championship and has now started well over 100 races at a level where some drivers only spend one year en route to F1.

So does his GP2 title prove Pantano is F1 material? Or have other drivers like Bruno Senna, Romain Grosjean, Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi impressed in this year’s GP2 field?

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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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19 comments on “Giorgio Pantano beats Bruno Senna to the GP2 title – but will he reach F1?”

  1. did anyone see Buemi get told off by bernie last week at Spa? for not showing his pass on the pit straight? afterwards he tucked it back into his jacket.

    as for Pantano, the question is, who will have him?
    Berger wants his prodical son Senna, Redbull want Buemi and grossjean is a renault man (poor thing).#

    speaking of Renault, i should be in enstone on the 19th, what should I nick?

  2. Senna had a few penalties, so looking at just skill the top drivers are good, title aside.

  3. Every time I’ve caught the GP2 coverage on ITV4 (usually the Saturday afternoon race, I’m never awake in time for Sunday’s sprint) Bruno Senna always seems to be fannying around in the lower half of the top 10. I think he needs another year in GP2 before he steps up to F1.

    As for Pantano, I think he had his chance, albeit with a team in sharp decline, but never made any kind of impact in any way. I don’t even really remember him being in F1. Maybe he should just stay in GP2, earn his money, keep winning, and go down as the world’s most sucessful GP2 driver, because I doubt he’s going to make a mark in F1.

  4. I can’t help but feel that Di Grassi was by far the best driver, and had he not been absent for the first 6 races, he would’ve walked away from 2008 with the championship.

    Pantano, I don’t really see any team would want him, ignoring his time with Jordan in 2004, incidents like Spa (where the penalty was partly for unsporting conduct) would certainly make me hesitant to take him on. Judging by his post race reaction, I think he’s come to pretty much the same conclusion. (although the arrogance levels in F1 would go through the roof if he made it back)

    Similary Senna didn’t really impress me. Then again, I wouldn’t say anyone was particulary exceptional this year – I’m struggling to see why Red Bull are so taken by Buemi, for instance.

  5. My GP2 race report on Maximum Motorsport: Giorgio Pantano wins title despite penalty (GP2)

  6. Kazuki Nakajima joined F1 from GP2 after being best rookie in 2007. Going into the last race Romain Grosjean is the best-placed driver who wasn’t in GP2 last year (he won GP2 Asia) on 53 points. Grosjean’s good but his racecraft needs a bit of polish.

  7. I think Senna’s name and Berger’s mentoring will get him the nod for the STR next year. And no bad thing. Although Senna hasn’t exactly shone this year, he has done enough considering some of the misfortunes he has experienced (Fido-gate anyone?) and the years that he wasn’t racing following his uncle’s accident.

    Think Di Grassi has done a great job and deserves a few test outings in F1.

    Pantano had his chance in F1 and failed to shine. Can’t see him making that jump now. He’s learned how to drive a GP2 car well enough, but incidents like today’s crossing of the pit exit line for 200 metres with half the cars width, indicate he just doesn’t quite have the focus.

    Renault might well be looking for a new driver. Grosjean could get lucky if Alonso does decide to switch.

  8. First GP2 race I watched from start to finish. Didn’t even know it was the final race(s) of the season.
    For a driver with some F1 experience, albeit little, Pantano does possess the ability to attract penalties and commit infringements.
    His crossing of the white line exiting the pits, while not under any immediate pressure, will stand out in the eyes of teams looking for drivers with both driving ability, and craft.
    Its sad for Pontano really, Its unlikely he will even get a test in an F1 car, let alone an appointment as a test driver.
    Just another case of there being too many talents and too few teams.

  9. What I find very interesting is that in the post race interview with the ITV4 presenter, I’m sure I heard Pantano indicate that he may “think of doing something else if I don’t get a F1 drive”. Where would he go to and what would he do?

    A Force India team member commentating during Fridays practice said that “Pantano is no ones cup of tea”, so I guess the writings on the wall that he is unlikely we will see him in F1.

    Lastly I’m not aware of any testing he has done for an F1 team this year, and whether or not he has a big sponsor willing to back him in F1.

  10. I think considering he missed the first three rounds of the season, Di Grassi has looked the class of the field and I think Renault should consider replacing Piquet with him for 2009.

    That said, you don’t win a championship by accident and Pantano could be a solid – if not amazing – F1 driver.

    His pit exit gaff today didn’t do him any favours though. I guess a lapse of concentration is understandable, being 20 minutes away from winning your first title in eight years, taking it with a win in front of your home crowd, at Monza of all places, but with everybody looking for the next Hamilton, F1 demands perfection.

    A development role with a mid-field team is probably the best he can hope for.

  11. ScuderiaToroFerrari4Eva
    13th September 2008, 19:50

    To Salty i dont know about Senna he looks a little bit rugged he needs another year to polish up and he will be able to step up well pantano surely he can get into f1 but also di grassi grosjean but buemi looks consistant but maldanado looks very fast it will be very tricky for the teams to choose the best option :)

  12. ScuderiaToroFerrari4Eva
    13th September 2008, 19:51

    But the seat at Renault is there for the taking becoz Piquet well his been nowhere so i suspect someone from the list in gp2 at renault possibly grosjean?

  13. @ Sush.

    If you are going to nick anything, take all their technical data for the 2009 car, and send it off to the printers and hope no one notices. If you make it that far, then give Martin and Ron a call and make them an offer they cannot refuse. Request cash only, no cheques!
    And, after their busted again and minus another $100 million, you’ll be tucked up nice and safe on some yacht off the Caymans! The big score…………
    Then again, you could nick something that they would never miss, such as Nelson Piquet JNR for instance!

  14. Nakajima didn’t impress me in GP2 last year – I thought he was still too raw and unready. I thought he’d crash a lot in F1, but to his credit he hasn’t done that much at all. Having said that, he’s pretty much taken over from Piquet as “most likely non Honda/Force India to get knocked out in Q1”, so he’s not really very fast at the moment.

    I think on balance Pantano has just about deserved his GP2 title on consistency, but it’s arguable that he’s been around in the series so long he really ought to know it inside out. Pantano has probably reached his maximum. Senna, Grosjean, Di Grassi and Buemi (and maybe Maldonado too) haven’t and as such they should be the ones to make the move up, though I think (as per the Nakajima example) not just yet – 1 more year for those guys.

    If the grid was 26 cars there’d be a slot for Pantano. With only 20, there probably isn’t.

  15. I can’t see Pantano getting an F1 drive. I can remember when he was in karting and all I heard were people saying that he was going to be like Senna. There were people who know an infinite amount more about karting than me who thought he should have made the move to cars earlier. I have never seen him do anything that marked him out as special.

    Lucas diGrassi has had a great season but then so he should. He was the driver who did all the development driving so the car should be entirely to his taste. There would be something wrong if he could not win races in a car he developed.

    Bruno Senna can only lose by staying in GP2 for another season. He has had a good season and should get an F1 seat of some kind. We will never know how good he could have been had he not missed out on 10 years experience but he improves every year and has more untapped potential than drivers delivering similar performance.

    I am not overly convinced about Buemi yet. Ithink he could benefit from another GP2 season as could Grosjean. He seems to have a bit of the Nicolas Minassians about him. Fast driver but prone to being reckless.

  16. It will be difficult for Pantano to get an F1 ride, and while no fault of his own, he’s got age working against him as the number one factor. Some of the best talents often take time to develop (see: Damon Hill) but with young stars getting so much attention at an early age, it will be very difficult for anyone of Pantano’s age- regardless of skill level- to get an F1 seat in the forseeable future.

  17. This years crop of talent may not have had the depth that previous seasons have had.

    Senna is a bit of a contradiction. He did not beat Pantano, who is in many ways a benchmark of how good a drivers is. As a very experienced F3000/GP2 driver who is normally found in the top third of the grid, a young hotshoe should be seen beating him. Rosberg, Heikki, Hamilton, Piquet & Glock all did.

    That being said, with his family name, fan appeal & undoubted ability to raise sponsorship, Senna may well find his way into F1.

    Does he deserve to be there on merit? Probably not, consider Premat the ART teamate of Rosberg & Hamiltion, a race winner & front runner that never got the F1 chance.

  18. Senna needs another year. He’s plenty quick, but erratic. He can make it to F1, though.

    Di Grassi was, IMO, definitely the best and most “F1-ready” driver in GP2 this season. If he’d started the first few races, he would have easily won the championship. He had the best combination of pure speed, poise, and consistency. If I’ve got an open seat next year, he’s in my top-3 drivers I’m looking at to fill it, and that includes F1 drivers. He’s got a bright future.

    Pantano is a consistent driver who can do a good job in a F1 seat, but his upside isn’t great.

    Grosjean’s got the most raw speed of any driver in GP2, but again, he’s very inconsistent and erratic. He needs another year in GP2.

    I actually liked Buemi. He seemed to have good race pace and handled overtaking well. He seemed to me in the races I watched to have good consistency.

    The field generally this year wasn’t tremendously impressive. I think there are plenty of guys who have F1 pace (Senna, Grosjean, etc.) but don’t have the consistency, and there are people like Pantano who have F1 consistency but are limited in their pace upside. The only one who I would put in a F1 car right now without hesitation is Di Grassi.

  19. Pantano’s age is a problem but I think he’s an absolute legend. I reckon he’ll get a drive with the Williams or Toro Rosso team next year. Or if Force India decide not 2 keep sutil that could well be another posibilty.

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