As I watched Antonio Pizzonia spin off the track at the challenging Japanese circuit I couldn’t help but wonder if an insignificant chapter in F1 history would finally close. Had the 25 year old Brazilian finally run out of lives?
I hope so. He just isn’t good enough.
Pizzonia has only shown glimpses of ability throughout his 4 year career in F1. He did have a promising start however; signing a long term deal with WilliamsF1 after success in Formula Renault and British Formula 3. In 2001 and 2002 he proved Sir Frank Williams’s decision to hire him a good one, and often ran faster than both Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya in testing sessions. This led to Sir Frank lending him to Jaguar in 2003 to gain race experience in preparation for a future WilliamsF1 drive.
Testing for Williams in 2001 and 2002 ended up being Antonio’s most successful period in F1, because in 2003 to everyone’s surprise he was annihilated by his team mate, Ex-Minardi driver Mark Webber. Antonio failed to finish 6 out of 11 races, and didn’t come close to scoring points in the races he did. Webber out qualified Antonio at every GP and in the same period scored 12 points. Antonio was dropped mid season by Jaguar after spinning off again at Silverstone.
Why Sir Frank took him back in 2004 as a test driver I’ll never know, especially after Pizzonia made ugly comments about Jaguar giving Webber preferential treatment. Being consistently embarrassed by outbursts from Ralf and Montoya had obviously desensitised Frank to stupid drivers.
Through a spinal injury to Ralf, and two ordinary performances from fellow test driver Marc Gene, Antonio got an undeserved opportunity to race again in 2004.
Did he seize the day, and prove he belonged in F1? The answer is no…. He did nothing special.
Mark Webber got some sweet revenge however, beating Pizzonia in a slower Jaguar at the German GP.
Antonio Pizzonia is simply not good enough. He is terrible at qualifying, his race pace is ordinary, and he struggles to keep his car on the black stuff.
As I continue to watch the dust settle on Pizzonia’s beached BMW-Williams, I know I’m watching Pizzonia finish something he started at Jaguar…… ending his F1 racing career.