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GP Week : Issue 19
38 a relaxed atmosphere and with a signed contract, that guy would be so competitive in Formula 1 he would be frightening.” Perhaps the best person to assess his potential though, is Pantano’s current GP2 team boss, Alfonso de Orleans Borbon. “We’ve had a lot of very good drivers, not just in GP2 but in other categories, people like Franck Montagny or Justin Wilson to name just a couple, and I have to admit that Giorgio is probably the best driver we’ve ever had until now. When you’ve got a driver of that level you actually end up wondering why he isn’t in Formula 1. What’s he doing in GP2? It’s great for us, but I think he should actually be in Formula 1.” “Does he deserve to be in F1? Yes. With how he was before and how people perceived him from what I’ve heard around, I think in the past not. But the way he is now, there’s absolutely no reason not to have him in F1. He’s one of the most professional people I have ever met. And from what I’ve heard from some F1 teams asking me questions, they wouldn’t be asking me those questions if they weren’t interested.” Giorgio Pantano has excelled at every level he has contested. In 2008, according to those who know him best, he is a changed man, one who has matured into an intelligent, contemplative, dedicated and yet passionate, aggressive and spectacular racing driver. Will the decision- makers in F1 look past that broken year of 2004 as they have for Timo Glock? Will they look past his age and recognise that in beating the best of a younger generation there is something to be said for experience? “I just want an opportunity,” he says, his eyes full of sincerity. “I don’t say I want to have a contract for next year. All I want is a test … a proper test. We’ll do the test and after the test you can make a decision. You tell me, honestly, ‘You can be a world champion’ or ‘You’re not going to make a good Formula 1 driver.’ And if they say that to me, that I’m not going to be a Formula 1 driver, I will stop racing. That’s it. Because my dream is just Formula 1. If I don’t have this chance I will stop. That’s it.” As one of the greatest talents of his generation, it would be a tremendous tragedy for Formula 1 if he was forced to do so.