Romain Grosjean claimed his first win of the season yesterday after pressuring early leader Vitaly Petrov all through the first half of race two in Istanbul, taking the lead and walking away in the latter stages for a dominant victory ahead of Petrov and Sébastien Buemi.
While the French driver celebrated on the podium the sympathy of everyone in the pitlane was with Bruno Senna, who drove an incredible race to move up from fifteenth on the grid to have a certain points finish destroyed when he struck a stray dog which had somehow found its way onto the track, breaking his right front suspension and immediately retiring from sixth place.
At the start Petrov made a storming start from fourth to claim the top spot into the first turn, while Grosjean slightly pushed Karun Chandhok into polesitter Adam Carroll, allowing Buemi and Javier Villa to line up behind the Russian driver but ahead of the Frenchman as they tore up the hill. Behind them however was mayhem, and when the dust settled eight drivers were out on the spot, with the safety car immediately coming out.
At the restart Grosjean wasted no time in getting by Villa, who was also passed by teammate Giorgio Pantano a few corners later. The order was shaking out all through the field as the drivers made up for the lack of overtaking yesterday by attacking all over the circuit, although Chandhok and Villa took it a little too far and an inevitable contact put the pair into spins which would delete any chance they had of scoring in the race.
Senna, in particular, looked unstoppable as he set a string of fastest laps to move up into the points paying positions. The Brazilian was in sixth position and looking certain of more on lap 10 when he struck the dog coming into the final complex: he limped back to the pits before storming away, clearly fuming at the situation he found himself in. Just one lap later Grosjean's race long pressure finally paid dividends as he slide inside Petrov at the end of the back straight to claim a lead which he would never look like relinquishing.
When another dog ran on track the safety car had to be brought back out, compacting the field for the final run to the flag, but Grosjean was imperious at the restart and just disappeared, while Petrov's mirrors were full of Buemi's Arden for the remainder of the race. And while the order further back was still swapping lap after lap, up front the top three were followed across the line by Pantano, Mike Conway and Ben Hanley, the two Britons scoring their first points of the season after staying out of trouble and keeping their heads while those around them were losing theirs.
Pantano's fourth place was enough to maintain his lead in the championship with 24, with Grosjean moving up to second with 19 points ahead of Buemi on 14 and Andreas Zuber with 13 points, setting up an intriguing battle to come in Monaco. Racing Engineering is leading the Teams’ Championship ahead of ART Grand Prix, Trust Team Arden and iSport International.
Driver / Team 1. Romain Grosjean ART Grand Prix 2. Vitaly Petrov Barwa International Campos Team 3. Sébastien Buemi Trust Team Arden 4. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering 5. Mike Conway Trident Racing 6. Ben Hanley Barwa International Campos Team 7 Alberto Valerio Durango 8. Alvaro Parente Super Nova Racing 9. Kamui Kobayashi Dams 10. Diego Nunes DPR 11. Giacomo Ricci DPR 12. KarunChandhok iSport International 13. Roldan Rodriguez Fisichella Motor Sport Intenrational 14. Luca Filippi ART Grand Prix 15. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 16. MilosPavlovic BCN Competiciion