2008 GP2 Series Champion Giorgio Pantano 'deserves' to be given a second crack at Formula 1, it has been argued – but runner-up Bruno Senna is no Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg.
That is the view held by Enrico Zanarini – manager of Force India star Giancarlo Fisichella and formerly also to four-time grand prix-winning Ferrari ace Eddie Irvine – who suggested Pantano would be a far better choice for F1 team owners than the considerably more-vaunted Senna, who trailed the Racing Engineering ace by twelve points in the ultimate reckoning following the GP2 finale at Monza just over a week ago.
Whilst Senna has been linked with Scuderia Toro Rosso, BMW-Sauber, Williams and Honda, there has conversely been little interest for Pantano, at 29 six years the Brazilian's senior and whose reputation was somewhat tarnished by a poor maiden campaign in the top flight with Jordan Grand Prix back in 2004, at a time when the Irish outfit's fortunes were irreversibly on the wane.
In the wake of that career setback, the Italian tried his hand at competing across the Pond with two mid-season outings in the Indy Racing League in 2005, before focussing his attentions on GP2 glory. Following 112 starts in the F1 feeder series – in its guise as International F3000 from 2001 to 2003 – and with no fewer than 15 victories to his name, Pantano is the most successful driver in the category's history.
“The problem for him is that Formula 1 probably will not want him because of his age and because he's been there before,” Zanarini told GPWeek
on the subject of his countryman, “but certainly he deserves the attention of every manager.
“If it can happen for Timo Glock then it can happen for Giorgio.”
Zanarini was, however, less enthusiastic about Senna's immediate potential, claiming the Brazilian – still with just four full seasons of racing behind him – is not yet experienced enough to leap into the uppermost echelon.
“Obviously in the car he's a very good driver,” the Italian acknowledged, “but he's not ready yet. He's not Hamilton or Rosberg.”