Lucas di Grassi won an absorbing GP2 Series feature race at Monza on Saturday, but it will be remembered for Giorgio Pantano winning the championship - in not altogether straightforward style.
In a race that started in wet conditions under the safety car, Pantano looked to be cruising to the title with a dominant race win from pole position. He suffered a few straightline moments at the chicanes, but so did just about everyone else.
He led by as much as three seconds at one point, but always had di Grassi and Pastor Maldonado, who passed Sebastien Buemi for third on lap four, for company.
Di Grassi got very close just after half distance, as Pantano got stuck lapping Luca Filippi - the first man to pit for slick tyres as the track dried.
Pantano came in for new slicks of his own on lap 25, and rejoined in the lead with seven laps to go. However, he made a massive error by driving straight over the white line as he tried to warmup his new rubber, for which he received a drive-through penalty with five laps to go.
Di Grassi had already passed him for the lead, however, going into the Parabolica just before the Italian took his penalty. Maldonado then exerted huge pressure on di Grassi to the finish, having passed him with 10 laps to go, only for Lucas to outbrake him at the first chicane six laps later. It was to prove the decisive moment of his race victory.
Buemi finished a distant third, having shown great pace in the 'crossover' conditions, but fell back towards the end. Romain Grosjean just held Bruno Senna at bay for fourth, Senna not managing to muster enough points to keep himself in with a shout of the title. The Brazilian drove a great race, though, from his lowly 12th starting spot.
Roldan Rodriguez finished an impressive sixth for FMS, ahead of Jerome d'Ambrosio and Davide Valsecchi, who will start Sunday's reverse grid race from pole. Mike Conway scored a point for fastest lap, battling back after making an extra pitstop.
Pantano finished 10th but, despite failing to score a point in a race he had pretty much dominated, it didn't really matter.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Di Grassi Barwa Campos Team 1h00:23.203 2. Maldonado Piquet Sports + 0.736 3. Buemi Trust Team Arden + 6.785 4. Grosjean ART Grand Prix + 17.789 5. Senna iSport International + 18.324 6. Rodriguez FMS International + 20.488 7. D'ambrosio Dams + 22.709 8. Valsecchi Durango + 24.826 9. Soucek Super Nova Racing + 32.866 10. Pantano Racing Engineering + 34.682 11. Chandhok iSport International + 35.259 12. Valerio Durango + 45.567 13. Conway Trident Racing + 59.501 14. Iaconelli BCN Competicion + 111.344 15. Asmer FMS International + 1 lap 16. Filippi Trust Team Arden + 2 laps Retirements:
Driver Team Laps Yamamoto ART Grand Prix 27 Tung Trident Racing 26 Herck DPR 22 Parente Super Nova Racing 19 Nunes DPR 16 Kobayashi Dams 15 Petrov Barwa Campos Team 3 Zuber Piquet Sports 3 Villa Racing Engineering 3 Fastest lap: Conway, 1:35.456 on lap 32