Romain Grosjean finished first in a GP2 race for the fourth time this year – although it was only his second win, as he’s had a few brushes with the stewards.
Bruno Senna will be ruing his latest run-in with the stewards, and it was a controversial one. Senna was hit with a drive-through penalty after his iSport team released him into the path of Alberto Valerio. F1 driver Felipe Massa received no penalty for a very similar move at Valencia two weeks ago.
Senna did not lose any ground to title rival Giorgio Pantano, however, who failed to score after a scruffy drive.
Senna had led from pole as the race started began behind the safety car. Alvaro Parente, second, quickly caught the Brazilian, who ran wide at the chicane on one lap, but Senna held the lead before making his pit stop on lap seven.
This came as the field switched from wet weather tyres to dry en masse, and Senna was followed in by Pantano and Alberto Valerio. But Senna’s iSport crew let him out of his pit box as Valerio was passing by, and although the two did not make contact, Senna was shortly served with a drive-through penalty.
After making their stops early, Senna and Pantano had been poised to take over the lead of the race, as Parente, Romain Grosjean, Mike Conway and Vitaly Petrov all fell behind Pantano after their stops. But the safety car was rushed onto the circuit after Davide Valsecchi had a severe crash at Stavelot.
Valsecchi escaped serious injury in his second major crash of the season, having shunted heavily at Istanbul. But during the long safety car period Pantano suddenly slowed with an engine problem. Once it cleared, he had fallen from second to tenth.
When the race restarted Senna had returned to the lead, but still had to serve his penalty. Once he did that, on lap 17, Parente took over the lead from Grosjean.
The ART driver caught Parente when the Portuguese racer ran wide at the chicane. On lap 21, Grosjean got past Parente at La Source, then defended very strongly as Parente tried to reverse the move at Les Combes.
For a moment it looked like Grosjean was going to repeat the mistake he made defended from Kamui Kobayashi at Barcelona, which cost him a win, but Grosjean stopped short of pushing Parente off the track. Still, he is pushing the ‘one defensive move’ rule to its limit.
Pantano had recovered to eighth place – good for one point and a vital pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race. He was defending from Vitaly Petrov when he took too much of thr wet kerb at La Source and spun, falling to tenth.
Shortly afterwards the safety car came out again to recover the stricken car of Alberto Valerio on the run towards Blanchimont. After the restart Pantano made to pass Roldan Rodriguez at La Source, but mis-timed his braking, and slammed into Lucas di Grassi’s Campos car.
That ended Pantano chances of scoring any points and dropped him behind Senna, who had recovered to 12th by the end.
Grosjean took the win from Pantano, with Andreas Zuber taking the final place on the podium after an overtaking attempt by team mate Pastor Maldanado – on the last lap at the last corner – failed.
Petrov was fifth ahead of Sebastien Buemi, Andy Soucek and Mike Conway – the latter taking pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race. Jerome d’Ambrosio, Kamui Kobayashi and Karun Chandhok finished ahead of Senna.