The GP2 Series concluded its development programme for the forthcoming 2009 campaign with none other than recently-crowned champion Giorgio Pantano at the wheel of its test hack.
Series technical staff remained at Paul Ricard last Thursday and Friday, after the 13 teams had packed up and left at the end of the latest group test, and continued the winter development programme with Pantano handling driving duties for two days.
The main goal was to validate the 2009 upgrade kit and, more precisely, to work on the new clutch reliability. In mild and sunny conditions, Pantano was able to complete 104 laps - around 400km - without problem.
"We enjoyed a trouble-free session and are very satisfied with the clutch in particular," technical director Didier Perrin commented, "I believe both the teams and the drivers will enjoy its input.
"It was a real pleasure to benefit from Giorgio's expertise and experience. He is not only able to run fast laps one after the other with impressive regularity, but he can also analyse, with great finesse, the behaviour of the car. His feedback allowed us to gather precious data that will help us work on strategies and on adapting the clutch to the engine."
Pantano, meanwhile, was delighted to give something back to the series that has been his home since his short-lived stint in F1 in 2004, and which finally yielded a title, with Racing Engineering, in 2008.
"I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to help develop the car," said the Italian, who looks likely to turn to America in the absence of any concrete openings in F1 next season, "The GP2 Series will always be a very important part of my career, and I am glad to help them."