Giorgio Pantano is an Italian former racing driver who recorded fourteen starts in Formula One World Championship, driving for Jordan in 2004.
After his short stint in Formula One, Pantano entered the inaugural season of the GP Series in 2005, staying in that competition until 2008 when he became a champion.
Pantano was active in GT racing until 2014, scoring a championship title in the 2013 International GT Open series.
Extraordinary results in karting competitions
Born in February 1979 in Padua in northern Italy, Pantano spent more than ten years in karting competitions, scoring extraordinary results both in national and international competitions. He was considered as one of the best ever talents in karting by his fellow drivers.
After collecting Italian, European and World championship titles during his years in karting competitions, Pantano was ready to switch to car racing at the age 20.
German Formula 3 champion in 2000
His first competitions in car racing were Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series and Euro Open Movistar by Nissan. In 2000, he joined Opel Team KMS in the German Formula 3 Championship and captured a championship title in a Dallara-Opel. He was a race winner three times.
After testing an F1 car with Benneton, Pantano made a step into Formula 3000 International series in 2001, driving for the Belgian Astromega team. He finished ninth in the points with one victory in the season-closing race at Monza.
Formula 3000 vice-champion in 2002
Pantano stayed for two more seasons in the Formula 3000. In 2002, he was driving for the Italian Coloni team, scoring three wins and finishing second in the final classification, just two points behind a champion Sebastien Bourdais.
Formula One season with Jordan
During his F3000 years, Pantano was testing F1 cars with McLaren, Williams and Minardi but was unable to find a seat in Formula 1 team. He was in negotiations with Jaguar for the 2004 F1 season but the team signed Christian Klien. Finally, Pantano made a deal to drive for Jordan.
He made a debut in the #19 Jordan EJ14-Ford at Australian Grand Prix, finishing in 14th place, three laps behind race winner Michael Schumacher. Later in the season, he managed to finish five races and retired in eight races. His best result was 13th place at Malaysian Grand Prix and European Grand Prix at Nurburgring.
Pantano skipped the Canadian Grand Prix due to personal reasons, being replaced by Timo Glock. Pantano was again replaced by Glock for the last three races in the seasons and it was the end of his F1 career.
Four seasons in GP2 Series, championship title in 2008
In 2005, Pantano entered the inaugural season of the GP2 Series, a new feeder series which replaced F3000. He was driving the #7 car for Super Nova Racing, scoring six podiums over the season to finish sixth in the points. The champion was Nico Rosberg. In 2006, Pantano was driving for FMS International, co-owned by former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella. With two wins, both at Monza, Pantano finished fifth in the points.
He was a winner at Monza again in 2007, and one more time at Magny-Cours, driving for Campos Racing. He finished third in the championship. In 2008, after scoring four wins with Racing Engineering team, Pantano became the GP2 Series champion. He was also the most successful driver of all time in F1 feeder series (F2/F3000/GP2) with fourteen wins.
Racing in the Superleague Formula and Auto GP Series
In 2009, with GP2 Series title in his hand, Pantano was forced to find a new competition because champions were not allowed to continue competing in GP2 Series. He entered the Superleague Formula with Azerti Motorsport/AC Milan. He won a race at Magny-Cours, finishing seventh in the points.
In 2010, Pantano competed in the Auto GP Series (former Euroseries 3000). He made ten starts with three different teams, scoring one podium to finish 13th in the points.
Six starts in the IndyCar Series
In 2005, during his first season in the GP2 Series, Pantano made two starts in the IRL IndyCar Series, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. He almost reached a podium at Watkins Glen, finishing fourth.
Later in a career, he shortly returned to IndyCar Series in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he participated in three races with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. In 2012, he rejoined Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio.
International GT Open champion in 2013
In 2013, Pantano switched his interest to GT racing, participating full season in the International GT Open with Bhai Tech Racing. He was driving the #64 McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in GTS class, sharing a car in seven rounds with Rafael Suzuki and in one round with Alvaro Parente.
Pantano and Suzuki were race winners three times, at Nurburgring, Silverstone and Monza. Pantano became GTS class champion, tied in points with Lorenzo Bontempelli.
One more season with McLaren before retirement
In 2014, Pantano continued to race with McLaren but in the Blancpain GT Series. He participated in all rounds of the Sprint Series in the #60 Bhai Tech McLaren, sharing a car with Fabio Onidi. Without wins or podiums, they finished 14th in the points.
Pantano also joined Boutsen Ginion Racing to drive a McLaren at Spa 24 Hours, a part of the Blancpain Endurance Series. His co-drivers at Spa were Frederic Vervisch, Karim Ojjeh and Olivier Grotz. They didn't finish the race.