GP2 Series pacesetters Giorgio Pantano and Bruno Senna again marked themselves out as the men to beat as far as this year's championship is concerned, taking a win apiece in tricky circumstances at Silverstone's British Grand Prix meeting.
Senna took the pole in Friday's qualifying session, narrowing the gap between himself and Pantano after the Italian had retaken the advantage at Magny-Cours, but his good work was undone within a handful of laps as he slithered wide at Stowe and lost several places. The Brazilian also surrendered a position during his mandatory tyre stop, and found himself mired in one of the most entertaining battles of the season to date as duelled over fourth place with ART's Romain Grosjean and Arden's Sebastien Buemi.
The scrap went on into the final lap, with the trio having twice gone through the Becketts section three-abreast, before Senna thought he had done enough to secure fifth position. However, another mistake as they headed into the 'stadium' section handed the initiative back to Grosjean and the Brazilian had to settle for sixth.
“I think we made one or two incorrect choices with today's set-up," Senna said of his preparations with the iSport team, "My car was quite tricky to drive at the start and a gust of wind helped push me wide at Stowe on lap four.
"It was just too easy to make mistakes. My battle in the race's closing stages was great fun, but my tyres were finished by then. Overall, though, I'm not too disappointed. Given the problems I encountered, I'm happy to have scored a few points.”
Senna's situation was made worse by the fact that Pantano produced possibly the race of the year to come from fifth on the grid to claim his third win of the year - and a record-breaking eighth for his GP2 career.
The Racing Engineering pilot made a great getaway from the inside of row three, immediately gaining a place as a slow-starting Grosjean caused Andi Zuber to lift. Senna's mistake then gifted him another position, but Pantano found himself losing time to new leader Lucas di Grassi as he became embroiled in a head-to-head with the recovering Grosjean, with Senna never too far away.
The leaders were all on a similar pit-stop strategy, but Pantano clearly had the better car when the resumed and, despite being denied one passing opportunity by an abandoned car at Vale, seized the smallest of chances to pass Grosjean when the Frenchman left a minute gap at the Abbey chicane. It was barely a car wide, but Pantano dived down the inside, the two cars rubbing wheels before the Racing Engineering emerged in second.
He was now 3.7secs behind leader di Grassi, but Pantano quickly began to close the gap and, on lap 30, was right behind the Brazilian as the cars exited the Becketts complex. Having slipstreamed his rival down the length of the Hangar Straight, Pantano feinted to the left and, as di Grassi covered the move, darted back to the right to take the lead in a move reminiscent of Nigel Mansell's on Nelson Piquet in the 1987 British Grand Prix. With the Italian clearly faster, the contest was finished.