Italy Looks to be Gaining Ground in Turning GP2 Drivers Into F1 Stars
After another stunning drive in Malaysia, Trident’s Luca Ghiotto became the tenth winner of a crazy GP2 season in the Sprint race at the Sepang International Circuit.
The result was his maiden win in the series, his fourth podium which moves him up to seventh in the Drivers’ Championship. This win came after Prema Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi, his Italian counterpart, to the victory in the feature race, and featured another countryman, Russian Time’s Raffaele Marciello, in second place.
These three drivers represent a potentially bright future for Italy in motorsport after a tough few years without much representation, especially in Formula One.
Giovinazzi is a driver who has been heavily linked with potential drives in the series, with Williams or other teams further down the grid.
Marciello has previously taken part in a practice session with Sauber but has seen any rumors of drives in F1 stall for some time, despite being currently being in the third position in the GP2 championship and being one of the three drivers still in the fight for the title at Abu Dhabi.
This year of 2016 is important when thinking about Italians in the ‘pinnacle of motorsport.’ It marks ten years since the last Italian driver won a race in F1, Giancarlo Fisichella for Renault, coincidentally at the Sepang Circuit.
Not only that but since Vitantonio Liuzzi left Force India at the end of the 2011 season, no Italian has even been in a car on the F1 grid. Five seasons with no representation.
It is starting to become apparent this may be changing with the breakthrough of these drivers, and all focus will be on how they can progress in future.
Giovinazzi and Ghiotto have set the world alight in recent times in GP2. Despite being series rookies, they have been some of the form drivers in the second half of the season, even if they both didn’t immediately make themselves known.
Giovinazzi has taken four podiums in his last five races, including three wins in Belgium, Italy, and Malaysia on his way to stealing the championship lead from teammate Pierre Gasly. He leads the championship standings with 197 points, seven clear of Gasly and 39 clear of Marciello.
The problem for Giovinazzi may be that seats are quickly being filled in Formula One and that he could become champion. The champion of GP2 cannot return to the series, which would potentially leave him marooned somewhere, or only in another series such as sports cars and the World Endurance Championship.
Marciello and Ghiotto may stay on to fight again in GP2 in 2017. It is only Marciello’s third season in the series, and other drivers have stayed on for longer. Not only that, but he has consistently shown improvement during his time in the series, finishing in eighth, before a seventh-place finish, with another guaranteed top-seven finish coming his way at the end of the current season.
It looks like each of these drivers have the potential raw talent to be extracted in F1, but that they are part of the long list of drivers who are in the bottleneck of fighting for a drive.
The Italian flag may be returning to a gridbox in Formula One soon if deals do go their way.
EMAIL CAMERON AT firstname.lastname@example.org
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.