Magnificent Maldonado Masters Monaco
Pastor Maldonado has crushed his opposition on the streets of Monte Carlo with an impressive and aggressive debut GP2 Series victory. He beat Giorgio Pantano into second position with championship leader Timo Glock maintaining his title lead with third place.
Race Report: Despite a sudden downpour an hour before the start, the race began in sunny, dry conditions. As the race got underway only Andi Zuber failed to make it away, for the second feature race in sucession. There was no repeat of the first corner mayhem of 2006, other than Andy Soucek's nudge of Karun Chandhok putting the Indian out on the spot. Andy will take a ten-place grid penalty next time out for the move. Pastor however held his lead, with Giorgio second and Lucas di Grassi moving to third.
The order behind the top three saw Vitaly Petrov in fourth, with Luca Filippi fifth and Sebastien Buemi sixth, as both Campos cars seemed to struggle for pace. Lucas was all over Giorgio, just as behind Vitaly a long queue was beginning to form.
Pastor's pace saw him lap his first rivals on lap 12 as Andy Soucek and Jason Tahinci gave in to the inevitable. Timo Glock pitted from seventh that same lap, while positions two to six were now covered by just three seconds. Luca and Sebastien came in three laps later, with Giorgio following suit one lap later. Vitaly dived in next time round, with Lucas pitting on lap 19. Pastor cruised into the box on lap 20, emerging in second position and putting Bruno Senna into a short-lived lead of the race.
He pitted next time through, placing Pastor back in control and holding a massive lead. But when Javier Villa spun through the Swimming Pool bringing out the Safety Car all of Pastor's hard work was undone. With the pitstops all played out Pastor led Giorgio, Timo, Luca, Lucas, Vitaly, Sebastien and Antonio Pizzonia.
After two laps under caution racing got back underway, as Lucas di Grassi tried and failed to lap Jason Tahinci. The Turk soon realized he was not in the fight, but as he slowed to let the other cars through, smashed into the barriers at Tabac and brought out another safety car, just one lap after it had originally come in. Another few laps of caution were observed, and we were racing again.
But nobody could touch Pastor. He was quite simply in another league today, and despite a considerably improved pace from both Campos cars after their tyres changes, no positions in the points were altered in the closing laps. And so, the order under the first safety car was the order in which the race ended, as Xandi Negrao made up for an awful Monaco with fastest lap on the final tour of Monte Carlo.
All this leaves Timo in charge of the title on 37, with Luca up to second on 21. Bruno and Lucas share third on 18 points with Pastor fifth on 12 (all scored this weekend) and Giorgio sixth on 9. iSport International lead the team's title on 43, with Super Nova sharing second with ART Grand Prix on 23 points.
1st Pastor Maldonado: Trident Racing.1:06:49.495
I feel incredibly happy! I think we worked very hard for this race, and I'm very happy to for my team, for my country, for my sponsors, and now for us the championship starts here, in Monte Carlo.
2nd Giorgio Pantano: Campos Grand Prix. +8.439
I'm happy only when I'm first, but after the results of the first few races and the bad luck we had I think that we are second place in Monte Carlo that's not bad. I just decided to keep second place and not take risks.
3rd Timo Glock: iSport International. +10.936
I think it was the best that we could get out of the qualifying results. At the end we have to be happy that we finished in the top three, especially after Filippi hit me on the rear left tyre. It's a good result for the title.