Premat: SVG ‘rated as an alien’ in Europe
Shane van Gisbergen has a big future ahead of him in Europe if he ever decides to leave Supercars, says his French co-driver Alex Premat.
A former team-mate to three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton in GP2, Premat has heaped praise on Van Gisbergen after linking with the Kiwi for this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Amazed at Van Gisbergen’s talent behind the wheel, Premat believes that the Queensland-based driver would himself have been capable of winning an F1 title if he was of a smaller stature.
The 188cm, 95kg Auckland native raced Formula Ford and Toyota Racing Series open-wheelers in his formative years before switching to Supercars in 2007, aged just 17.
Van Gisbergen took a significant step towards his first Supercars title yesterday on the Gold Coast, extending his lead over Jamie Whincup to 160 points with victory.
Today the Van Gisbergen/Premat combination will look to secure the Pirtek Enduro Cup title, which would add to the Bathurst 12 Hour and Blancpain Endurance Series crowns that the former has already achieved this season.
Although now based in America, Premat remains well connected in Europe and says that Van Gisbergen could not be more highly rated.
“If Shane was smaller and lighter, he’d be a champion in Formula 1,” Premat told Speedcafe.com when asked how he rates the Kiwi compared to the likes of his former team-mate Hamilton.
“Shane is very talented. He has a lot of skill and is very smart with what he does on the set-up.
“He’s always thinking about what he can do better all the time. He’s always working.
“In Europe with all the comments from people I’ve heard, everyone rates him as an alien.
“They say, how can he do that? And honestly, they’re right.
“In SMP (Sydney Motorsport Park in August), the first time that I drove the (Red Bull) car I did a ride-along and Shane was next to me.
“The next lap I was next to him (as a passenger) and it was pretty amazing.
“That lap I will remember all my life, what he was doing, how he controlled it.
“He could put the car wherever he wanted and at whatever speed. It was amazing.”
Van Gisbergen has previously downplayed the prospect of ever racing in Europe full-time, but is hopeful of returning for selected races next season.
He will not, however, be able to defend his Blancpain title due to two of the five rounds clashing with Supercars events.
The Castrol Gold Coast 600 concludes today with qualifying, a Top 10 Shootout and the 300km Race 23.