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GP Week : Issue 19
37 F1 INSIGHT >> beginning I probably wouldn’t have even been racing karts because I didn’t have any money. But in the same way it was a disaster after and that has affected my career. Now, fortunately, everything is clear. There is nobody. I’m just me and I just have to find the right people to go back to Formula 1.” But is it too late for that F1 chance? Giorgio is currently 29. By today’s F1 standards he’s old, so old that he’s earned the nickname ‘Grandad’ from his rivals in GP2. Rivals, it must be mentioned, who are floundering in his wake this season as the Italian, who has just become the most successful driver of all time at this level, leads the GP2 championship at the mid- point of the season and with his beloved Hockenheim, Spa and Monza tracks yet to come … “We need to be honest,” says Giorgio, deadly serious. “There is probably five or six very young drivers in Formula 1. From these young drivers, who showed their talent? Who showed the difference? Two. There is two at the moment who showed they can make a difference … but they lack experience. They can show their talent, but they need also to show they can fix the car and they know how to work. “I’m sure I can do the same job … probably better. But until I have this opportunity I cannot show anything. With Jordan what can you show? You can show nothing. I need to show, with the same opportunity of being in a McLaren, a Williams or Ferrari or whatever, a proper team where you can show your talent. But I’m not Hamilton. I’m not Piquet, Rosberg, Kovalainen ... I’m Giorgio Pantano. You can see my career, and I probably have more than them from go-karts to Formula 3, all the way to here … but, I’m still here.” He has a fine point. In his time, Pantano has taken on and beaten almost every driver currently racing in Formula 1, be it in karts, F3, F3000 or GP2. Giorgio was testing F1 cars when guys like Nico Rosberg, who used to have a poster of Giorgio on his wall, were still karting. Giorgio, along with Tonio Liuzzi, represented a bridge between the Trulli and Fisichella generation of Italian motorsport and the current younger generation of guys like Luca Filippi. And yet both have failed to get the chances their enormous talents merit. “The answer is probably because we are Italian,” Giorgio laughs. “If we were coming from another nationality I might be in Formula 1. The nationality makes the difference. Formula 1 is a business and they need the right driver with the right nationality.” Jonathan Williams was the man who had organised the Williams F1 test for Giorgio where we had first met back in 2002. His reasoning for testing Giorgio then had nothing to do with his nationality, however, and has not changed five years on. “What makes him successful today was what we could see back then. He’s a very quick, reactive racer with a lot of determination. He had one year in F1 and I think he would certainly merit a place on a future F1 grid. He has certainly proved consistently that he can perform and more importantly that he can win at this level.” But will he get that shot? Boarer is unsure. “I think they will ignore him because of his age and I think that’s terrible. I think it’s such a waste. I was always amazed that Williams never took him. He was the sort of driver that Williams should have taken under their wing like they used to in the old days, just you, nobody with you, put him in as a test driver and I guarantee within a year, in