Davide Valsecchi is determined to spearhead the return of Italian driving talent to the top flight of international motorsport, and says his recent GP2 Series success has given him the confidence to believe he can make a difference right away.
The DAMS driver wrapped up the 2012 GP2 title in the first of two race at the final round in Singapore at the weekend, capping a lengthy five-year stay in the premier feeder series by becoming only the second man, after current Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean, to have won both the regular and Asia Series titles in his career. However, although he has been afforded the occasional test opportunity by teams in F1, notably out-pacing Bruno Senna when the pair ran with Hispania at the 2010 'young driver' session in Abu Dhabi, he has always been overlooked when it came to a permanent role. Team Lotus (now Caterham F1) signed him as a test pilot in 2011, affording him an outing in Friday practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix
that year, but the Italian has since been forced to return to GP2 in search of the success that could pave the way to a race seat, ironically leaving Caterham Racing for DAMS in 2012.
With Jarno Trulli
and Tonio Liuzzi losing their seats at the top table this year, and the likes of Luca Filippi being passed over in favour of drivers with more money and less talent, Valsecchi is well aware of Italy's absence from F1, but is determined to be at the vanguard of a new wave of stars.
"In Italy, they always say there is no Italian driver in F1 but, before now, who deserved it?" he was quoted by ESPN
, "Last year, we finished second with [Luca] Filippi, which was fantastic, but we were unlucky because it was second. The year before, no Italian, and before there was [Giorgio] Pantano, who was a great champion, but there was the story that he was in F1 before, and that maybe he was too old.... This year, there is another Italian champion [and] I really hope to have the chance because, at the moment, we are strong enough to use it."
Such is his ambition and motivation, Valsecchi insists that he would jump at the opportunity to prove himself in F1, even if it meant heading into a race weekend without preparation.
"In GP2, there are the best drivers in the world outside of F1, and the level is so high that, if everything is not perfect, you cannot win," he pointed out, "There are teams like Lotus (ART GP), DAMS, iSport, Racing Engineering, Addax, Arden - every one has won in the past, and there are such good drivers that it is really hard to be the champion here.
"I really hope I will have a chance [to move to F1], and that I can show that I deserve to be there, that I'm ready and I'm strong enough to be there," he enthused, "I would sign right now, next week. If you were going to Japan, I would come with you!"