Giedo van der Garde has admitted that he expected to have been given a slap on the wrist for his indiscretion in the opening race of the GP2 Series weekend in Turkey. Instead, he found himself stripped of seventh place and condemned to start race two from the back rather than the front of the grid.
Already penalised for not slowing sufficiently in a yellow flag zone during qualifying at Istanbul Park, the Dutchman started from 14th on the grid for Saturday's feature race, but drove beautifully to keep championship leader Romain Grosjean and GP2 veteran Pastor Maldonado honest for most of the 34-lap encounter. A slick pit-stop from the iSport team, taken under the safety car, then allowed van der Garde to cross the line in seventh position.
However, after the race had been concluded, it was deemed that the series rookie had overtaken the safety car illegally, and he was been handed a 25-second penalty that dropped him both out of the points and off the front row of the grid for race two, before a further ten-place penalty was applied to his Sunday grid position, virtually ending his chances of a good result from the weekend.
“It was pretty good starting 14th and finishing seventh," van der Garde reflected, "The pace was good and the car was pretty good, so I think it was a very optimum race. However, I am very disappointed with the penalty.
"I had hoped the stewards would have given me a warning as it was a very close call when I overtook the safety car, but I have to respect their decision. All my hard work was undone and it made it very difficult to get a result from the sprint race."
The double penalty meant that van der Garde started from 24th on Sunday's grid instead of second but, far from being deflated by the situation, he stormed through the field to finish 13th in an event with no mandatory pit-stops. With his pace proven for perhaps the first time this year, iSport will always be left wondering what could have been in race two, but van der Garde is intent on taking some positives from the weekend as GP2 heads for Silverstone.
“It was okay," he sighed, "I started 24th, but had an unfortunate start because two guys in front of me stalled, so I had to back off and was completely last, but I managed to do a bit on the first lap and overtook some people in the race. In the end, I finished 13th, so it was not too bad I guess. The positive thing is the car was very good and we have found some good pace."