Jolyon Palmer has taken his second win of the season at Monza during his first-ever visit to the historic Italian track.
The 19-year-old led the field away from pole position, only to lose his advantage before the second chicane, then regain it as his opponent Johan Jokinen was judged by the stewards to have breached the rules on his way to the grid.
Jokinen had stalled on the warm-up lap but filtered through the field to regain his place before the start. He was given a drive-through penalty and took it on lap eight, handing the lead back to Palmer.
At almost the same moment Mihai Marinescu made contact with the rear of Jack Clarke’s car in a fight for fifth place, sending Clarke into the barrier for his third unplanned exit in as many races. He was left stranded on the edge of the circuit as the safety car came out.
After the restart Palmer found himself challenged by Marrakech race winner Dean Stoneman who had travelled from eighth on the grid to fourth on the first lap before passing Kazim Vasiliauskas for third place.
Jokinen’s penalty promoted the Briton to second and he immediately started to hunt down the leader, a battle that included contact during the safety car period.
Palmer, however, was able to hold him off until the end of the race, making his second visit of 2010 to the top step of the podium. Stoneman has so far been on the podium four times out of five, but only won once.
Palmer said of his victory: “It wasn’t an easy one. When Johan came through the pits, I was leading with a comfortable gap.
“The safety car changed everything and after the restart the car wasn’t feeling as good, but I had a lot of boosts left. The closing stages were tense, Dean was right behind me and I was delighted to keep him there.”
Vasiliauskas took a comfortable third ahead of Will Bratt who had made his way up from tenth on the grid. Paul Rees was ninth.
After this first race of the Monza weekend there are just two points separating Philipp Eng, Dean Stoneman and Palmer in the series standings.
Palmer went on to set himself up with an excellent chance of a double victory and a decisive standings lead after taking pole position in qualifying for tomorrow’s second race.
He was the only driver to record a sub-1:40 lap time, doing so five minutes from the end of the session, with Sergey Afanasiev two-tenths of a second behind and next on the grid.
Bratt will line up third with Eng in fourth, Marinescu in fifth and Kelvin Snoeks in sixth. Stoneman is 10th, Clarke 14th and Rees 17th.
For full results, standings and reports on the weekend’s action, visit the series website here.