GP2 » 02 August 2008
di Grassi wins Hungaroring feature.
Lucas di Grassi finally took the win that had been eluding him since his mid-season return to the GP2 Series, capitalising on the lightning start to take another ten points and move into third overall.
Starting from third on the gird, the Brazilian made the most of polesitter Romain Grosjean's tardy getaway, but still looked likely to gain just the one position as front row man Andi Zuber led the field into turn one. When the Austrian ran wide after failing to get his Piquet Sports car slowed quite enough, however, do Grassi was through - and away.
Campos team-mate Vitaly Petrov also benefited from Zuber's error to move into second, while GP2 points leaders Bruno Senna and Giorgio Pantano both squeezed past Grosjean through turn one. Pantano, however, did not quite have enough to slot in ahead of the ART Grand Prix man, and relinquished the spot again at turn two. It was to be a costly moment for the Italian.
While di Grassi made good his escape at the front of the field, Grosjean's evil-looking car was proving to be something of a roadblock to those behind him. Pantano was all over the back of the Frenchman, looking to exploit any gap, but had to wait until lap two for one big enough to appear. When the ART car ran wide exiting turn four, Giorgio pounced, but failed to leave enough room as he turned in to five, and clipped the front of the resuming Frenchman. Although he initially seemed to have caught the ensuing slide, it wasn't enough and the Racing Engineering car rotated to a halt, with almost the entire field going by before he could rejoin.
With Pantano out of the reckoning barring a miracle, the attention focused on whether di Grassi could take his first win since returning to the series at Magny-Cours, and how far Senna, running fourth, could eat into the Italian's points lead.
di Grassi maintained a comfortable advantage over the field until making his mandatory pit-stop on lap 15, but the order behind him continued to change slightly with the passing laps. Team-mate Petrov ceded second back to Zuber on lap five after running - nay, sliding - through turn four and allowing the Piquet Sports car easy passage into the runners-up spot, while Davide Valsecchi, Adrian Valles, Carlos Iaconelli all spun out to join the luckless Alberto Valerio, who didn't even make the start, on the sidelines.
Pantano, meanwhile, pitted as soon as the window opened in the hope of being able to use new tyres and some empty track to his advantage, but found that the traffic only changed in appearance, rather than quantity. The Italian found himself bottled up behind the hapless Luca Filippi - not enjoying life at Arden any more than at ART - until his countryman ran wide at four to allow the points leader to claim 18th place.
Mike Conway was the first of the top five to pit, the Briton having kept his head at the start to move up one place from his initial sixth on the grid. Senna followed not long after, with Petrov, Karun Chandhok and Zuber all stopping before the leader came in for his compulsory change of tyres.
di Grassi rejoined in second spot, still ahead of Zuber, but temporarily behind the Austrian's Piquet Sports team-mate, Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan had looked quick in practice, but a major off before the first chequered flag of the GP2 weekend meant that he missed qualifying and had to start at the back of the grid - ironically negating the ten-place penalty Maldonado picked up for punting di Grassi out of the Hockenheim sprint race two weeks ago. With little to lose, the team kept his out on track longer than anyone, hoping that a clear track may allow him to build enough of an advantage over those at the tail-end of the points to score some points.
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