Q&A with GP2 champion Pantano
GP2 Series: Giorgio Pantano, 2008 GP2 champion: how does that sound?
Giorgio Pantano: It sounds great! It sounds very good, and the name, Giorgio Pantano, and the 2008 championship works together very well! I am so happy: I'm a little bit worried about the race today but anyway taking the championship was what we wanted to do, and it is what we have done, and there is another race tomorrow where I am P10, and I remember another race in 2006 I was P8 and I won the race, so I can have a good chance to make the podium tomorrow, and then probably start to convince myself that I won the championship because at the moment I am a little bit angry about what I did at the exit of the pitlane and because it was not possible to win the race, and also because it was still a little bit slippery so I was being very conservative. But apart from that I have to say thanks to all my team, especially to my mechanics because this year they just make a great job: this year we didn't have any mechanical problems which means they were very serious working on my car and the other car, and this is wonderful. This is my first year where I have something like that and don't have any mechanical problem, and I really have to say thanks to them.
GP2 Series: For the whole history of GP2 you've been the benchmark for the series: you're the guy everyone gets judged against because we all know how good you are, so if someone is quicker than you then that means something, and if they are not then it means that they have to try harder. What has the difference been for you this year from the other years in the championship?
Giorgio: I think the difference this year was the way we are working: the team just did a great job, the mechanics did a great job and we never had any mechanical problems like what we had in the past where we had many problems, but this year everything was just perfect. We have to say thanks to Racing Engineering for that, and for the people who are working for them: it's the only difference.
GP2 Series: It was the new car this year: how much harder was it to win the championship in the new car than with the older car which everyone knew everything about?
Giorgio: I think they are serious because the job they did at the start of the year, going to the seven post rig and to the wind tunnel, it was a very good job because when we went to the start of testing at Paul Ricard we had a car already in a perfect set up and a perfect condition, and it was not difficult to fix the small problems we had at the mid season testing at Paul Ricard, we just started with that car and make a small change each weekend: that means they are working hard, they are working seriously, they are working tough and they did a good job, because they know what to do.
GP2 Series: I know you get annoyed about people talking about your experience at this level, which can get discounted to an extent because of the new car, but how much do you think your experience just as a racing driver has contributed to your championship win?
Giorgio: I think if we are going to look at all my four years in GP2, the other teams I was always on the top but there was just some small problem: this year we were just more consistent because mechanically like I said the team was working perfectly, and if it was going well in Valencia, in Spa and here then maybe I would have won 7 races. Apart from that I was always on the top, and I cannot say I made a difference this year because I have more experience, because there are also other drivers who were with me in the past. This year they are calling me the daddy, or the granddaddy, but the granddaddy still wins races and wins the championship, you know? They need to look to what I am doing! [laughs] I am not the daddy: I am still hungry, and I still want to show what I can do.
GP2 Series: Well you can now ask who's the daddy now! We've seen what has happened to all of the other winners of this championship: what are your expectations for next year?
Giorgio: My expectation is, the people are saying to me take the championship first, and then if you take the championship then probably you have the opportunity: everyone who won this GP2 title went to Formula One, and I'm just waiting now. I'm not waiting for long but I'm waiting a little bit, because I have to focus on my future, my career, because I can not live without anything.
GP2 Series: It's a shame that we didn't get to see you celebrate this championship up on the podium in front of your home fans: any chance we will see you celebrating there tomorrow?
Giorgio: You know, the pressure is starting to go down now, and tomorrow I have nothing to lose, just to gain. For sure I want to make tomorrow what I didn't make today, minimum on the podium, and I try to do my best without taking any risk, and do a perfect race.
GP2 Series: I know you like to celebrate in style, and I'm sure everyone wants to see you up there tomorrow. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating our newest champion.