Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado has sealed this season’s GP2 series crown, despite ending this morning’s race in the barriers at Parabolica.

The Rapax driver crashed on lap one of the sprint race, running wide and bouncing in to the gravel at Monza’s final turn.

But having taken a big points advantage in to this weekend’s event- the penultimate of the GP2 season- and with sole rival Sergio Perez failing to score in either race Pastor leaves Italy as series champion with a round to spare.

© LAT/Autosport

The title was effectively won by a run of six straight feature race wins- a series record- which started in Turkey back in May and was only ended by Sam Bird’s thoroughly deserved victory in yesterday’s race. Maldonado was able to build a commanding lead during the summer months, and has never come under any real pressure for the title. Perez was his only genuine challenger for the crown, but inconsistency has prevented the Mexican from mounting a serious assault.

So Maldonado becomes the sixth man to win the title, following Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, Giorgio Pantano and Nico Hulkenberg.

Excluding Pantano- whose F1 reputation had been tarnished by a poor year with Jordan in 2004- all have immediately progressed to F1. With the title in the bag Maldonado will now be looking to do the same, and has been linked with Pedro de la Rosa’s seat at Sauber or, failing that, a drive with cash-strapped Hispania.

In other F1 support series news Mexico’s Esteban Gutiérrez sealed the GP3 title in style with pole on Friday and a win on Saturday, the ART Grand Prix driver having dominated much of the 2010 season. He’s expected to step up to GP2 next year, and with backing from Telmex and an obvious abundance of talent it shouldn’t be too long before the man from Monterrey is knocking on the door of F1.

© LAT/Autosport