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Grosjean secures 2011 GP2 championship

27 August 2011

Romain Grosjean had a fairly quiet afternoon at a wild and wet Spa-Francorchamps, staying out of trouble to coast to a relatively smooth third place in the GP2 feature race.

Grosjean benefited from starting on the drier side of the drying grid, allowing him to get a good getaway behind polesitter and eventual race leader Christian Vietoris and Jules Bianchi, outdragging Marcus Ericsson up to Les Combes to secure third place, which he kept through to the chequered flag.

More significantly, his nearest title rivals - Barwa Addax team mates Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic - both had terrible afternoons and failed to finish, giving Grosjean an unassailable lead in the GP2 points standings. It all-but officially confirms him as the GP2 champion for the first time in his career, and is a potentially invaluable stepping stone back to Grand Prix racing with Renault F1 in 2012.

Pic had slid into the unfortunate Luiz Razia in turn 1 at the start of the second lap, while Giedo van der Garde was bumped wide out of La Source by Esteban Gutierrez and ended up lightly bumping the outside wall. Although van der Garde rejoined at the back, his race would end for good when he was rear-ended into a spin by Rodolfo Gonzalez at the top of Radillon while running behind the safety car, after the heavens opened mid-race.

The torrential downpour caused chaos for everyone, with the safety car itself struggling to keep control of the situation at one point as confusion reigned. Multiple technical failures ensued leaving no one quite sure what was happening for several minutes: Julian Leal had spun out at Eau Rouge to bring out the initial safety car, Jolyon Palmer and Marcus Ericsson stuttered to a halt with mechanical gremlins, and Max Chilton and Sam Bird had apparent intermittent drive problems that dropped them out of contention.

After eight laps behind the safety car, the rain finally eased off and the medical crews had finished their work attending to Stefano Coletti, who had been involved in a nasty accident with Mikhail Aleshin down into Pouhon - reminiscent of the notorious Coulthard/Schumacher crash in the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix.

That allowed one final lap of green flag racing before the time-capped race concluded, which saw Johnny Cecotto lose drive out of the final corner that meant he lost eighth place (and consequently the final points position and moreover the sprint race pole) at the flag to Fairuz Fauzy, while Sam Bird managed to regain 12th place from Pal Varhaug at the death. Bird had earlier triumphed in thrilling battles with Chilton and Michael Herck before the rain had hit the circuit.

It confirmed Vietoris with the win ahead of a rather downbeat-looking Jules Bianchi on the podium, with Grosjean the most energetic celebrant after claiming his championship title. However Grosjean's work is not yet completely done for the season: his Dams team still trail Barwa Addax by 11pts in the team championship.

Luca Filippi finished in fourth after recovering slightly from slipping on the wet side of the starting grid, while young New Zealander Brendon Hartley impressed with fifth place giving Ocean Racing their first points of the season. Hartley managed to hold off Dani Clos to the end, who had earlier won a thrilling battle with Josef Kral as the rain front had rolled in.

Full race times and positions available.


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