GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi believes he deserves the chance to return Italy to the Formula 1 grid following his success this season.
The 25-year-old sealed the crown in the F1-feeder series in Singapore last weekend, beating season-long rival Luiz Razia to the title.
This year's Australian Grand Prix was the first race since the 1973 German GP not to feature an Italian on the entry list, following Jarno Trulli's departure from Caterham on the eve of the season to make way for Vitaly Petrov.
Only one GP2 champion has failed to secure a drive in Formula 1 the following season, and that was Valsecchi's countryman Giorgio Pantano.
"In Italy they always say there is no Italian driver in Formula 1," said Valsecchi. "But before now who deserved it?
"Last year we finished second [in GP2] with Luca Filippi, which was fantastic but we were unlucky because it was second.
"Before there was Pantano, who was a great champion, but there was the story that he was in Formula 1 before [in 2004 with Jordan], and the story that maybe he was too old.
"This year there is another Italian champion. I really hope to have the chance [in F1], because at the moment we are strong enough to use it, and I can show that I deserve to be there. I'm ready and I'm strong enough to be there."
Valsecchi, who made his debut in GP2 in 2008, added that he had enjoyed his GP2 campaign so much that he wished there were more races to come this year.
"To be honest, I love to fight with everyone here," he said. "I wish that we would go to the rest of the races with Formula 1 too.
"If GP2 was going to Japan next week, I would come with you. I would sign right now."
- Davide Valsecchi