Kamui Kobayashi claimed his maiden win in this year’s series yesterday in race two at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona after a mistake by Romain Grosjean at the restart with just 3 laps remaining handed the Japanese driver the lead ahead of Sébastien Buemi and Giorgio Pantano.
Grosjean looked to have the race sewn up after dispatching Kobayashi at turn one on the second lap, but a spin by Giacomo Ricci at the final turn prompted a safety car period: at the restart the French driver ran wide before re-entering the track and was extremely forceful to maintain his position at turn one, but was handed a drive through penalty for his efforts. The Toyota test driver got away well from pole but had fellow front row starter Buemi right next to him, and the pair drifted well right until Buemi had to concede: the move opened a huge corridor for Grosjean to slide through, claiming the scalp of his countryman with Pantano only just failing to follow through with him.
Further back Karun Chandhok spun to the back before restarting, while the Piquet Sports pair of Pastor Maldonado and Andreas Zuber started what was to become and almost race long slugfest. Grosjean had no time to wait and efficiently dispatched his rival for the lead next time around, and while the pair were easily the fastest drivers Kobayashi was unable to stay with Grosjean, who already had the race easily under control. His teammate Luca Filippi, meanwhile, seemed to have all of ART’s bad luck: despite a great getaway putting him in the middle of the Piquet fight, his engine soon gave up the ghost and he was back in the pits for good.
Ben Hanley was also pushing hard, but a very wide Adrian Valles was denying his every attack: with the layout in Barcelona not in the Englishman’s favour, he had to wait 18 laps for a mistake to finally hand him the position. It was around that time that Maldonado and Zuber’s fight boiled over, with the pair coming together as Zuber muscled his way past after a collision gave him the inside line. It was a move too far however, and the pair were soon back in the pits to retire as a result of the damage collected in the incident, while back on track Ricci caught the kerb and spun just before the final turn, stalling in the middle of the track much to the surprise of the rest of the field and prompting the inevitable safety car period.
At the restart Grosjean lost the composure he had shown all race long by running wide at the chicane and crossing the run off area, forcing his way back on track in front of Kobayashi and dealing with him very firmly at the end of the straight: he was brought with one lap remaining to hand the delighted Japanese driver the win and the bonus point for fastest lap time, ahead of Buemi, Pantano, Bruno Senna, an ecstatic Davide Valsecchi and local driver Javier Villa.
Barcelona – Sprint Race
1 Kamui Kobayashi Dams 2 Sébastien Buemi Trust Team Arden 3 Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering 4 Bruno Senna iSport International 5 Davide Valsecchi Durango 6 Javier Villa Racing Engineering 7 Alvaro Parente Super Nova Racing 8 Mike Conway Trident Racing 9 Ben Hanley Barwa international Campos Team 10 Yelmer Buurman Trust Team Arden 11 AdrianValles Fisichella Motor Sport International 12 MilosPavlovic BCN Competicion 13 Romain Grosjean ART Grand Prix 14 Ho-Pin Tung Trident Racing 15 Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dams 16 Diego Nunes DPR
Pastor Maldonado Piquet Sports Andreas Zuber Piquet Sports KarunChandhok iSport International Giacomo Ricci DPR Vitaly Petrov Barwa International Campos Team Alberto Valerio Durango Roldan Rodriguez Fisichella Motor Sport International Paolo Maria Nocera BCN Competicion Luca Filippi ART Grand Prix
Fastest lap time: Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) – 1:29.204 on lap 5.
However, bonus point goes to Kamui Kobayashi – second fastest – as Grosjean failed to finish in the Top 10.
1 Alvaro Parente 11 2 Bruno Senna 11 3 Giorgio Pantano 9 4 Kamui Kobayashi 8 5 Sébastien Buemi 7 6 Andreas Zuber 6 7 Romain Grosjean 4 8 Vitaly Petrov 3 9 Davide Valsecchi 2 10 Pastor Maldonado 2 11 Javier Villa 1