Pantano powers to victory again Italian returns to top spot in Magny-Cours Giorgio Pantano has claimed yet another win at the Circuit Magny-Cours, outlasting Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean in scorching conditions to cross the finish line well...
Pantano powers to victory again
Italian returns to top spot in Magny-Cours
Giorgio Pantano has claimed yet another win at the Circuit Magny-Cours, outlasting Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean in scorching conditions to cross the finish line well ahead of series returnee Lucas di Grassi and Pastor Maldonado.
The Italian, who historically does well at the French circuit, applied constant pressure to Senna and Grosjean throughout the race, claiming the top spot when both men's cars failed to last the race, leaving the road clear for Pantano's emphatic victory.
Polesitter Senna was fast off the line when the lights went out, with Pantano slicing his way past Grosjean who was under immediate pressure from di Grassi, while behind them Andy Soucek was very slow to get away and Kamui Kobayashi stalled next to him, scattering the field as they tried to find a way by the pair and get on with their own races. Senna could already sense the pressure behind him from Pantano, and the pair was soon swapping fastest laps as they built up a gap back to the rest of the field.
Jerome D'Ambrosio was stuck in traffic in the middle of those following the top pair, and soon came in to make an early stop and get some clear air and make up some time: the gamble paid off handsomely as the rest of the field made their pitstops and then re-emerged behind him until Andreas Zuber finally stopped from seventh and came out just ahead the Belgian. The pitstops came and went, but all eyes were on the top pair as we waited to see what they would do.
The answer came on lap 18 when Senna and Pantano came in line astern and left in the same order, although Grosjean's earlier stop allowed his to run the fastest lap at that stage of the race to put himself between the pair as they came back on track. The Frenchman knew that he had to attack while he had a tyre advantage, and at the hairpin he did just that: running deep up the inside under braking he stole the Brazilian's lead, and didn't look back.
The fight continued for 3 more laps until Senna slowed suddenly and was limping back to the pits after losing his clutch, with Pantano swiftly moving onto Grosjean's tail, commencing an immense fight between the pair as they pushed each other all over the circuit: no one else had the pace to stay with them as they attacked constantly for the next 12 laps until Grosjean slowed too, the victim of a hydraulic gremlin while the Italian stormed away.
At the chequered flag Pantano's Racing Engineering team were hanging over the pitwall to salute his sterling win, while di Grassi kept his head in his first race back to claim second spot 8.6 seconds later, while Maldonado had a relatively quiet race to round out the podium 4 seconds later. Vitaly Petrov and Andreas Zuber were the next men across the line, separated by just 0.4 after a race long battle was resolved in the Russian's favour.
D'Ambrosio was next, sixth place a good reward for a great drive in difficult circumstances, ahead of Karun Chandhok and Mike Conway, who stayed out longer than anyone on his first set of tyres and was rewarded with a repeat reverse pole for race two, just ahead of Alvaro Parente, who drove his heart out to finish ninth after started last on the grid, while Pantano picked up the final point for fastest lap to stretch his lead in the championship to nine points over Senna, 35 points to 26.