A frantic GP2 sprint race saw eight drivers eliminated on the first lap and a safety car period after one car struck and apparently killed a dog.
The safety car was summoned before the first lap was completed as Pastor Maldonado, Andreas Zuber, Ho-Pin Tung, Yelmer Buurmanm Andy Soucek, Jerome d’Ambrosio and Adrian Valles all crashed.
Adam Carroll also retired on the first lap as his FMS car slowed abruptly after he made a clean start from pole position.
Behind the safety car Vitaly Petrov took over the lead from Sebastien Buemi, Javier Villa and Romain Grosjean. The safety car did not stay out long but perhaps it should have stayed on track for a few more laps, as marshals were observed removing Soucek’s car after the restart had been given.
Grosjean had a look at Villa on the restart after Buemi ran wide, but thought better of the move. A couple of laps later he was through, however, and shortly moved past Buemi as well.
Leader Petrov proved a trickier proposition. Grosjean got alongside him on the outside of turn 12 on one lap but under-steered wide allowing Petrov to keep the place. When Grosjean finally got through Petrov believed he had done so under yellow flags, but no punishment was forthcoming.
Grosjean was fortunate to get the move completed before the second safety car appearance of the race, for reasons that were bizarre and quite worrying. The ever-unlucky Bruno Senna struck a dog at the fastest part of the circuit.
The fate of the dog in the 150 mph-plus impact requires little imagination, and Senna was fortunate only to be taken out of the race with a wrecked front right wheel, and not become involved in a much bigger accident.
It transpired that at least one other dog was also on the circuit, and the safety car was sent out while it was brught under control.
When the race resumed Grosjean did not repeat his blunder from Barcelona and kept the lead, while Petrov fell back into the clutches of Buemi. Buemi made a few efforts for past, but had to settle for third.
Giorgio Pantano was a quit fourth, growing his championship tally to 24 points with Grosjean now second on 19 and Buemi behind him with 14.
The last two drivers in the points were British drivers achieving their first scores of the season: Mike Conway, who also had to dodge a dog, finished fifth, and Petrov’s team mae BenHanley was sixth.