Giorgio Pantano has been thrown out of the entire Spa-Francorchamps race weekend, including tomorrow’s sprint race, following breaches of the rules in today’s feature race.
The stewards charged Pantano, who led the GP2 championship by 11 points after today’s sprint race, with “reckless driving and unsportsmanlike behaviour” for his collision with Lucas di Grassi. He was also penalised for overtaking under the safety car.
The overtake under the safety car was not seen by the TV cameras (at least, not on ITV where I was watching). It may have occurred after he fell from second to tenth during the first safety car period due to a car problem.
Presumably it is that which has caused the stewards to use such a severe punishment. The collision with di Grassi, though careless, was a straight driving error of the type we saw Karun Chandhok commit at Valencia and even Kimi Raikkonen in F1 at Monaco.
What is on the face of it a very severe punishment actually probably has little bearing on Pantano’s weekend. He hadn’t scored any points so far and, having finished 21st in today’s race, wasn’t likely to score more in the sprint race tomorrow.
Title rival Bruno Senna will start 11th in tomorrow’s sprint race as Andreas Zuber has been disqualified from third for unauthorised repairs to his car. Senna therefore has the chance to further reduce Pantano’s advantage ahead of the final two races at Pantano’s home circuit, Monza.