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GP Week : Issue 28
5 Minutes with ... Giorgio Pantano He may have been nicknamed ‘Grandad’by his GP2 rivals, but Giorgio Pantano showed them all how it is done to wrap up the F1 feeder series championship on his home circuit of Monza. The jubilant champ spoke to WILL BUXTON GPWEEK: Giorgio Pantano, GP2 champion. Sum up what it means to you: GIORGO PANTANO: For four years I’ve been trying to win this championship, and this year fortunately it was a great year for me. It was just amazing winning it here at my home circuit. It was wonderful because you have your public, your fans are coming to watch another Italian win a title in a series. Unfortunately I didn’t take the podium or the win here, but the important thing was the title because it’s what I need if I am to have another chance to be back in Formula 1. It’s been four years for you in GP2. What made the difference in 2008? The consistency we had this year with the car. The car was just perfect. Mechanically we never had a problem, no issues, nothing happened. The guys were working very hard and focussing on every piece of the car and that was the difference compared to the other years. Sum up the battle that you had with Bruno Senna this year, taking the title fight all the way to the final weekend. I mean, I thought I could win the championship after I won in Silverstone. That was an amazing race, and amazing 20 win, and I said that if we were like this in those conditions, not too hot weather, cold weather and the car was still fast, I said there was nothing that can stop us from winning more races and taking the title. You had a fantastic celebration on your slow down lap after the last race in Monza. You took your first ever F3000 victory here back in 2001. What does Monza mean to you? The fans are real fans like what you see in motoGP and here in cars. The people in Italy enjoy a lot to see GP2 races because it’s very competitive, lots of fighting… it’s not like Formula 1 is usually. Here they have some satisfaction in watching racing as they see in motoGP because there is always something to see. The driver makes the difference. Let’s look to the future. Every GP2 champion has graduated to F1. How hopeful are you of a return to F1? Well, you know, I stayed in GP2 for another year because I was convinced that I needed to have another opportunity. Last year I thought maybe it was my last year in GP2, but I knew I had to win it if I wanted a chance to be back in Formula 1. We now have to wait and see if there is any contact, see if anyone calls. Would you take a test contract or do you want to race? If there is a good offer… I need to focus on my future. I do not want to take an opportunity just for one year. I have to focus on my future. I’m older and probably have another eight years in single-seaters and I want to take my future there. What can you bring to a Formula 1 Team? Experience, talent and I have to say I can compete with everybody. I’m not scared of anyone. And what if it doesn’t happen? Would you race in America? Yeah, sure. I’m sure there I can find a seat and a good seat to secure my future. If there is nothing good in Formula 1… I don’t want just Formula 1. I know I have a future, so I want a good offer. How sweet is it after the years of trying? You know during this year the other guys said I was the Daddy of the series. But the Daddy of the series beat the younger drivers.