Q and A with Giorgio Pantano As the GP2 Series gears up for round nine in Monza this weekend, Italian driver Giorgio Pantano (Campos Grand Prix) provides Bridgestone with an insight into his home circuit.
Pantano won both races at Monza in 2006 when the venue played host to a closely-fought GP2 end of season finale. As they head to Monza, Pantano is currently fourth in the Drivers’ Championship standings, just one point behind Luca Filippi (Super Nova), with six races remaining this season.
This is your third year in GP2, what do you enjoy most about the Series?
GP2 is like one big family and in this sense the paddock is very different to Formula One. The GP2 car is very impressive especially compared to Formula 3000 and the driving style in GP2 is the closest you will get to that of an F1 car. GP2 is great in preparing drivers for Formula One.
Monza is your home circuit, and you were very successful there last year, are you looking forward to returning to the track with GP2 this season?
Yes, of course. It is wonderful because I am in my home town, and it is amazing because normally it is full of people with the red flags of Ferrari and they are supporting Italian drivers. I won both GP2 races at Monza in 2006 [with FMS International] and I am hoping to achieve the same result this coming weekend! I would say that although this is my seventh year driving at Monza, last year in GP2 has to be the most memorable race weekend for me at my home circuit.
How would you describe the circuit, what kind of a challenges does it offer and how demanding is it on the tires?
Monza is a very fast circuit. It is the only circuit on the current calendar where Formula One cars can reach 360-370 kilometres an hour and GP2 cars reach up to 330 kilometres per hour which is amazing, the gap between the two is not that big. The circuit requires very hard braking and is demanding on the tires. Teams set the cars up with low downforce because it is such a quick circuit, which means as a driver you have to really use your tires to find the grip required. It is also a very technical track and it is important to use the curbs to be quick around Monza.
What would be your comments on the tire performance there last year?
At Monza you feel the grip of the Bridgestones quite quickly and in the GP2 Series we have very good tires. The slicks are consistent and we have never experienced any problems on them.
Is Monza well known for overtaking and which parts of the circuit are good for this?
There are probably a minimum of three points where you can overtake: under first braking, second braking and before Ascari. Therefore the main opportunities for overtaking are at the first chicane, Variante della Roggia and Ascari.