More penalties for Racing Engineering pair
30 August 2009
Racing Engineering continued to give the impression of being the most heavily-punished team in this year's GP2 Series after both Dani Clos and Lucas di Grassi were handed ten-place grid penalties for the Monza round after 'causing avoidable accidents' in Sunday morning's sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Spaniard collected championship leader Nico Hulkenberg at the first turn, after appearing to misjudge his braking into La Source, also causing the retirement of local favourite Jerome d'Ambrosio and luckless Italian Luca Filippi. di Grassi, meanwhile, came together with Edoardo Mortara at the Bus Stop as he was trying to pass for fourth place after the restart on lap four.
Clos had already been penalised after race one, for allegedly posting an improved lap time despite the presence of yellow flags, while di Grassi lost a couple of spots on the feature race grid after being accused of blocking in qualifying.
"My tyres were not at the optimal temperature so, when I moved to the inside, the track was dirty and, when I braked, all tyres locked up," rookie Clos explained later, "There was nothing I could do anymore to avoid the crash."
Things seemed to work out better, initially at least, for di Grassi, who was looking to add to the podium he secured in race one on Saturday. Despite having lost two positions at the start, the Brazilian quickly put Diego Nunes under pressure and, when Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi crashed at Les Combes, he gained two more positions.
The safety car had to be deployed to clear the debris at Les Combes, but di Grassi still gained one further position when Alvaro Parente suffered an engine failure ahead of him. However, when the safety car departed, things turned bad as the veteran tried to pass Mortara, who had been overtaken by Nunes just seconds before.
Mortara was running at a much slower pace than the rest of the field and, maybe being too optimistic in thinking that the Italian would let the faster Racing Engineering car go through, di Grassi tried to pass to the inside of the Bus Stop, but climbed over the Arden car and forced both to retire.
"The race start was not great but, afterwards, things went well until I tried passing Mortara, who was much slower than me," the Brazilian noted, "There was contact between our cars and the race was over for me, so I am not satisfied with the final results as I think our car was good for another podium today."
Things had been brighter for di Grassi on Saturday, as he helped himself to another podium finish, claiming third behind Parente and Hulkenberg.
Gaining a place at the first corner, and quickly passing Nunes to move into third, the Brazilian pushed Hulkenberg to the limit during the first few laps, but was not able to pass him. At the end of the eighth lap, he made his mandatory pit-stop and, what looked like a good opportunity for him to improve his position, soon became a fight against Maldonado, who ran fourth.
di Grassi was able to fight off the Venezuelan's attacks and continued in third position until, with two laps left, the safety car was deployed to cover a heavy crash for rookie Stefano Coletti. With the race finishing under caution, di Grassi was able to hold on to his podium spot.
"I had a good start and good first lap, and the car behaved very well during the first half of the race," the Brazilian reported, "Then we lost a bit of performance and I had to fight with Maldonado. But we scored good points and I am happy for my team as well. Now I am third in the championship and close to Petrov."