Paddock Postcard from Spa-Francorchamps 07 Sep 2008
On Friday here at Spa-Francorchamps there was a nice little ceremony when Sirs Etienne Davignon and Libert Froidmont and the circuit management unveiled a monument to the late Belgian racer and journalist Paul Frere, who died in February. The opportunity was also taken to rename Stavelot corner in his honour, as the Curve Paul Frere. The ceremony was attended by Bernie Ecclestone and representatives of various F1 teams and the media.
Famous racing faces seen in the paddock included another Belgian star, Francorchamps ace Jacky Ickx, Keke Rosberg, and March founder and former McLaren designer Robin Herd, with whose M7A creation Bruce McLaren won the marques first Grand Prix here 40 years ago.
The weather played its usual disruptive role in Saturdays GP2 feature race, which eventually fell to ART driver Romain Grosjean. Bruno Senna started from pole position for iSport, on a track rendered soaking by a heavy shower just prior to the start. But he was given a drive-through penalty when his team released him from his pit stop in what the stewards deemed to be an unsafe manner as he nearly collided with Alberto Valerio. The Brazilian had been leading from title rival Giorgio Pantano after the stops, but neither scored points.
The Safety Car was deployed after Davide Valsecchi suffered a heavy accident from which he was lucky to emerge with bruising and a shaking. At the restart Senna had to serve his penalty, and Pantano dropped back in the pack as, possibly, his Racing Engineering cars anti-stall mechanism briefly activated.
Grosjean outdragged Andreas Zuber to take the third place when Senna served his penalty, and went on to take the lead from Portuguese racer Alvaro Parente after a great battle. Pastor Maldonado, Vitaly Petrov, Sebastien Buemi, Andy Soucek and Mike Conway filled the remaining points positions. Zuber was subsequently excluded for a car irregularity, while Pantano was disqualified and barred from competing in Sunday's race as punishment for a late collision with Lucas di Grassi.