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Stewards hand 'Hulk' second home run
12 July 2009
Although he was putting pressure on the leader at the time, Nico Hulkenberg was handed a second race win on home soil at the Nurburgring when the race stewards belatedly slapped Vitaly Petrov with a drive-thru' penalty.
Hulkenberg, who had cruised to victory in Saturday's feature race, sprinted into second place as damp conditions caused chaos at the start of the sprint event, and was within a second of Petrov when notice of the Russian's penalty - for side-swiping Lucas di Grassi at the start - was served. Although Petrov stayed out for the maximum number of laps permissible while his Barwa Addax team scratched their heads, he eventually succumbed to the inevitable, leaving Hulkenberg ten laps to run unopposed to the chequered flag - and the championship lead.
Petrov lost three spots as he served his punishment, with Kamui Kobayashi and Alvaro Parente accepting second and third, but still had enough momentum to close back in on the opportunists as the track dried. Despite all still running on wets, the trio diced over second for several laps before the Russian got the better of Parente with seven laps to run. Chasing Kobayashi, however, the red mist got the better of him and, having run wide at turn two, he promptly spun under power on exit, allowing Parente back into a podium position, and the Portuguese made the most of the offering by also catching and passing Kobayashi for second four laps from home.
Petrov's cushion was such that he still recovered in fourth spot and ensured that he moved closer to Barwa team-mate Romain Grosjean in the standings after chasing Kobayashi across the line. The Russian could have passed the Frenchman in the standings had Grosjean not recovered impressively from an overnight grid penalty to claim points in fifth, despite slick-shod backmarker Alberto Valerio becoming involved in his battle with Javi Villa.
Dry tyres were never quite superior enough in time to warrant the majority of the field pitting for them, leaving Hulkenberg free to take the first weekend double since Lewis Hamilton achieved the feat for the same ART Grand Prix team at Silverstone in 2006.
di Grassi's hopes of atoning for the pit-lane mistakes of Saturday by winning from the front row evaporated quicker than the moisture on track as, having been clouted by Petrov, he then mistimed his braking into turn one and rammed poleman Sergio Perez, ending his own race on the spot with deranged suspension and leaving the Mexican pointless in midfield.
Pastor Maldonado, tied with the Brazilian on 26 points in fourth overall, also had his chance of closing on the leaders denied by a penalty for contact in race one. Like Grosjean, the Venezuelan came through the field from 26th and last, but only reached a high of eighth and leaves the Nurburgring having to watch his team-mate moving into the overall lead by three points over Grosjean.
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