Giorgio Pantano wins title despite penalty (GP2)

Giorgio Pantano won the GP2 championship in the feature race at Monza today despite losing his win due to a drive-through penalty.

The Italian driver led most of the race on a wet but drying track. However after making his mandatory pit stop he crossed the white line at the pit lane exit and was shortly given a drive-through penalty.

Despite losing the lead and dropping out of the points Bruno Senna was only able to finish fifth – not high enough to beat Pantano to the title.

The race began behind the safety car due to the wet conditions. And on the first lap at racing speeds Javier Villa braked too late for the first chicane and hit Andreas Zuber, pushing the Piquet Sports car into Vitaly Petrov, eliminating all three.

Pantano led but on several occasions he was seen to cut the first two chicanes. He was not the only driver to do it, though he seemed to do it more often than the rest.

Lucas di Grassi took up pursuit of Pantano in second, with Maldonado catching the pair of them after clearing Sebastien Buemi early in the race.

Pantano came under increased pressure from di Grassi as the track began to dry but, with the championship to think off, he stayed out longer on wet tyres than his rivals as the track dried. When he finally pitted most of the other front runners had already made the switch – and at the pit lane exit he cleared straddled the white line for a long way, incurring a penalty.

Senna was one of the first to switch to slicks and on one lap took five seconds out of Pantano. He caught Roldan Rodriguez for sixth and lined up to pass the FMS driver at the Variante Della Roggia chicane. Rodriguez went straight on at the corner, keeping Senna behind and recording the fastest lap of the race so far. But still there was nothing from the stewards, who in light of the Belgian Grand Prix controversy were starting to look a bit gun-shy.

Pantano’s mistake at least gave them a clear infraction to respond to with a clear punishment – even though it might have cost Pantano the title.

In the end it didn’t because although Senna passed Rodriguez he could do nothing to dislodge Romain Grosjean despite being quicker than the ART driver.

Di Grassi took the win after swapping places twice with Maldonado – and almost putting him off the track at Parabolica. Buemi was third ahead of the Grosjean-Senna battle.

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