Panetta had to battle hard before clinching victory
A heated row between Italy's Flavia Pennetta and France's Amelie Mauresmo overshadowed the opening day of their Fed Cup first round tie in France.
Pennetta fought back from a break down in both the second and third sets to win 2-6 7-6 6-4.
But Mauresmo said she felt her opponent should have been disqualified after appearing to insult the chair while disagreeing with a call.
"She gave the finger and should have been removed right away," she said.
France captain Nicolas Escude confirmed that the hosts were objecting to Pennetta's win due to the gesture towards the umpire.
Mauresmo earned a match point at 7-6 in the second set tiebreak thanks to an overrule. "We have prepared a letter for the supervisor to have the result of the match being revised," Escude said.
"At that moment, I didn't really see and cotton on," said Mauresmo, who indicated that when she did look up Pennetta appeared to have mouthed an insult at the chair, flicking her middle finger.
The point gave the Frenchwoman a match point but she then served a double fault and eventually slumped to defeat.
Pennetta, who did receive a warning for her conduct, said she was sorry afterwards.
"I am not pleased with myself but that's the first time such a thing has happened to me - it was a gruelling match from the start and I lost control as I really thought the ball was in," said the Italian.
Worse was to follow for the French when Francesca Schiavone beat Alize Cornet 6-1 2-6 8-6 to give Italy a 2-0 lead in the tie with the winners playing Russia or China.
Russia, the defending champions, are in a strong position after straight-sets win for both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva put them 2-0 up ahead of Sunday's reverse singles and doubles.
In the other World Group ties, the Czech Republic and Spain are tied at 1-1
In World Group II, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic put Serbia 2-0 up and well in control of their tie against Japan.
Jill Craybas got the United States off to a flying start with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Argentina's Betina Jozami in Arizona.