Romain Grosjean had victory in the GP2 sprint race at the Circuit de Catalunya in the palm of his hand – until he threw it all away with a mistake behind the safety car folowed by a rash defensive move.
Grosjean moved up from fourth to second at the run to the first corner as Kamui Kobayashi defended very robustly from Sebastien Buemi. The ART driver passed Kobayashi for the lead on lap four and rapidly pulled out a healthy advantage.
That should have been it for the Swiss driver but a spin by Giacomo Ricci brought out the safety car with six laps to go and set in motion a chain of events that would cost Grosjean the win.
As the drivers prepared to restart Grosjean ran wide at the new chicane and had to cut across the tarmac apron. That gave Kobayashi a clear run at Grosjean as they came onto the start/finish straight and Grosjean moved clear over the right of the track to the pitwall to stop the Japanese driver coming down the inside.
Kobayashi drew alongside as the pair raced into the first corner and it was here that Grosjean committed his mistake. He pulled sharply back towards to racing line, forcing Kobayashi to take evasive action and drive up onto the kerbs.
The stewards wasted no time at all informing Grosjean of a drive-through penalty for illegal defending, which dropped him to 13th place.
There was more unconvential defensive driving further back in the pack as the two Piquet Sports drivers clashed twice. Andreas Zuber tagged the back of Pastor Maldonado as the Venezuelan appeared to slow exiting Seat.
A few laps later at the same corner Zuber got alongside his team mate who swung in hard, causing another collision. It didn’t stop Zuber getting past but, unsurprisingly, the pair later pulled into the pits to retire.
Kobayashi also snatched the fastest lap of the race from Grosjean in tht dying stages, meaning no points for the ART driver in the sprint race.
Buemi finished third ahead of Giorgio Pantano and several other drivers who were promoted by the late retirement of Vitaly Petrov with a technical failure on one of the new GP2 cars. Bruno Senna was fourth ahead of David Valsecchi and Javier Villa.
Race one winner Alvaro Parente went backwards in the sprint race but holds the joint championship lead with on 11 points, followed by Pantano and Kobayashi.