Spanish GP winner Maldonado: 'It's a wonderful day'

Spanish GP winner Maldonado: 'It's a wonderful day'

Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado, who only took one point for Williams throughout a wretched debut campaign, said: "It is a wonderful day, not only for me, but the team.

“Yesterday we had a great qualifying, and today it was a tough race, especially with the strategy because of the tyres. Fernando (Alonso) made a better start, but I followed the pace, the car was strong.

“This is my first podium, my first victory, so you can imagine what I feel.”

Speaking to the BBC, a beaming Frank Williams said: “All the boys are delighted and I’m quietly delighted. Boy, did we need that win, as you can well imagine.

“Most of the season has been thanks to a fresh group of people, but it’s been very well balanced.

“The aero guys have done their stuff, more than their stuff. The Renault engine is very competitive.

“The car has got possibilities and our rate of development has to exceed that of the other teams. We’ll see.”

With his car sporting a new upgrade package this weekend, Alonso is happy to be in the hunt for the title again.

“We led the race at the first part, but Williams anticipated the situation at the first pit stops,” said Alonso.

“We were lucky at the end with Kimi closing in, but this second place is fantastic, a step forward in terms of the championships.”

Raikkonen, though, was unhappy with third as he said: “I’m a bit disappointed because I thought we would be stronger.

“We were not quick enough at the start and maybe we made the wrong choice of tyres at the first pit stop, so we have to look at this. But it’s racing and I’ve scored some good points for the team.”

From second on the grid Alonso made a superb start, despite the best intentions of Maldonado to put the Spaniard off his stride on the long run down to the first corner.

Behind them, Sauber’s Sergio Perez was the unfortunate loser as from fifth at the start the Mexican incurred a puncture through the first corners, forcing him off the circuit, and eventually into the pits at the end of lap one for new rubber.

When Perez returned to the track he almost collided with Hamilton, who was forced to take evasive action having made up five places in the opening corners.

Suggestions this would be Lotus’ day soon evaporated as Alonso and Maldonado pulled clear of Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, who were second and third three weeks ago in Bahrain.

Instead, it became a battle between Alonso and Maldonado, and a cat and mouse game surrounding pit stops.

Initially Alonso held sway through the first round after around 10 laps, although he was unable to shake Maldonado off his tail, which proved crucial through the second phase.

Maldonado was first in after 25 laps, with Alonso waiting until three laps later, resulting in him being comfortably passed by the former as he emerged back on to the track.

With a four-second lead Maldonado made his third stop after 41 laps, and again Alonso waited three laps, and again he filed in behind his rival.

The question at that stage was whether either would make a fourth stop, which would have brought Raikkonen back into the equation.

As the closing stages unfolded Raikkonen managed to reel in the front two following his third and final stop after 49 laps.

But hopes either man in front would take on fresh rubber for a fourth time never materialised, and instead he had to settle for third, 3.8secs down on Maldonado and 0.7secs adrift of Alonso.

The Finn is now fourth in the standings, 12 points behind Vettel and Alonso, and four behind Hamilton.

The 27-year-old performed admirably in the wake of his qualifying disappointment yesterday when he thought he had grabbed McLaren’s 150th pole.

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