Frenchman on top, title rivals out of points
Romain Grosjean has come out on top in an extraordinarily chaotic race one this afternoon, beating the elements and the rest of the field to win from Alvaro Parente and Andreas Zuber to put himself third in the championship on an afternoon when the main title rivals Giorgio Pantano and Bruno Senna failed to score a point despite running first and second after the pitstop period.
With heavy rainfall starting five minutes before the start of the race every team had to scramble to change tyres, with the stewards deciding to err on the side of caution and starting the race behind the safety car.
The race went live two laps later with polesitter Senna tearing away from Parente as he set a string of fastest laps before the now inevitable pitstops came as the rain stopped. Zuber came in for slicks on lap six as the pitlane opened, and all of his rivals were in on the following two laps to follow suit.
Unfortunately for Senna his team released him into the path of alberto Valerio, with a bitter-tasting drive through penalty the only possible result.
His penalty was delayed by Davide Valsecchi's huge crash on the next lap which brought out the safety car, from which he thankfully emerged with help shaken but intact, and although the Brazilian was at the head of the queue his thoughts would have inevitably turned the man immediately behind him: Pantano. It seemed clear that the Italian was going to inherit the lead and eventually the race win along with, potentially, the championship until he suddenly fell backwards down the order, a possible result of the anti-stall device cutting in before getting back underway in P10.
At the restart Grosjean outdragged Zuber on the top straight for third place, and when Sennacame in for his drive through the lead was handed to Parente, but the Portuguese driver's mirrorswere full of the red and white car of Grosjean.
Despite Parente's strong drive it was only a matter of time before he lost the lead, and on lap 20 Grosjean outdragged him along the front straight before cutting inside at La Source and into a lead that he never looked like relinquishing.
Pantano had moved up to eighth when he miscalculated his line into La Source and spun on the kerbs just as Valerio spun into the wall on the opposite side of the track, prompting another safety car period and another mistake by Pantano as he locked up and plowed straight into Lucas di Grassi, who had driven a magnificent race to be 8th from last on the grid, with both men spinning around and into retirement with just one lap remaining.
And at the end of that lap it was Grosjean who was pumping his fists with delight as thechequered flag dropped, with Parente next across the line just ahead of Zuber, who had a fiercebattle over the last few laps to hold off teammate Pastor Maldonado for third. Vitaly Petrov,Sébastien Buemi, Andy Soucek and Mike Conway filled the remaining points positions, withGrosjean claiming the point for fastest lap on his last time round to rub salt into the titlecontenders wounds. With the points positions unchanged at the top of the championship table,Pantano still leading Senna by 71 points to 60, Grosjean has put himself into the running bymoving into third, just 7 points behind the Brazilian.