GP2: Maldonado takes ‘last man standing’ win

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, September 7th, 2008

 
 

An extraordinary weekend for the GP2 series was rounded off this morning when Pastor Maldonado grabbed a last-lap victory in the sprint race.

The Piquet Sports driver ruined Belgian Jerome D’Ambrosio’s home victory after his DAMS rival had led the race from the very start.

Maldonado, who started from sixth place, managed a last-gasp overtake at Les Combes to secure the win. D’Ambrosio was left with a second place that was unlikely to be much consolation.

Third was Campos’ Vitali Petrov, fourth Arden’s Sebastien Buemi, fifth Petrov’s team-mate Lucas Di Grassi and sixth DAMS’ Kamui Kobayashi in the final points position.

He may, however, be looking at a penalty for cutting a chicane. In fact, the way things have been going this weekend, he may be looking at being put against the pit wall and shot.

Maldonado’s victory follows a weekend during which the grid was shaken up by a series of controversial stewards’ decisions that saw Karun Chandhok, Sebastien Buemi, Bruno Senna and Andreas Zuber all penalised.

Giorgio Pantano, currently trying to hang on to his championship lead until the season’s end, was disqualified from the race weekend altogether after an overtaking manoeuvre went wrong and caused an accident.

Britain’s Mike Conway, who drives for Trident, was set to start on pole after coming eighth in the feature race – but lost that after being promoted to seventh following the exclusion of Zuber. He eventually retired on lap four.

He said: “My race started in a bad way when a mistake at take-off cost me several positions. Then, at lap 6, I ended up spinning while exiting the last chicane and entering the final straight, and everything ended there. It’s a pity, ’cause we had a clear possibility to score an important result.”

Zuber said before the race: “I think the stewards hate my name. They throw me out at every opportunity. They have even put me 26th on the grid and there is only 25 cars!”

His Piquet Sports team said it was “very disappointed” at the decision, which concerned a repair to the car’s nosecone, and which it said did not fit with its understanding of the regulations.

In today’s race, D’Ambrosio initially hung onto his lead despite a strong challenge from Andy Soucek who was later forced to retire following a crash at Stavelot.

Another crash at Bus Stop claimed challenger Alvaro Parente, leaving Vitaly Petrov and Sebastian Buemi in the hunt.

But Maldonado was able to work his way through the field to take his late, and ultimately successful, shot at victory.

Following this weekend Giorgio Pantano still leads the championship, despite his recent run of low- or no-scoring outings.

Bruno Senna lost his chance to make an impact on the title chase after spinning himself, and Pantano is now set to go into the ultimate race weekend at Monza with 11 points in hand.

Unofficial championship positions following Spa

  1. Giorgio Pantano, Racing Engineering: 71
  2. Bruno Senna, iSport: 60
  3. Romain Grosjean, ART: 53
  4. Lucas Di Grassi, Campos: 53
  5. Pastor Maldonado, Piquet: 48
  6. Sebastien Buemi, Arden: 44
  7. Vitaly Petrov, Campos: 39
  8. Alvaro Parente, Super Nova: 34
  9. Andreas Zuber, Piquet: 32
  10. Karun Chandhok, iSport: 31
  11. Mike Conway, Trident: 20

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