Pastor Maldonado yesterday ended Williams’ long wait for a Formula One victory with an historic chequered flag in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Within a month of founder Sir Frank Williams’ 70th birthday, this was the team’s first win since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, 132 races ago.
Starting the weekend as a 300-1 outsider, Maldonado became the first Venezuelan to savour the winner’s champagne, finishing just 3.1 seconds ahead of home favourite Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari. And for only the second time in F1 – the other occasion in 1983 – there have been five different winners and fiver different constructors winning the first five grands prix.
Behind the leading duo Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus was a close-run third, running out of laps come the conclusion. Behind them reigning champion Sebastian Vettel was sixth, despite four trips to the pits, including a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags following a smash involving Bruno Senna in the second Williams and Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher.
The stewards are to investigate that incident later, with the seven-times champion seemingly the man at fault for running into the back of the Brazilian. As for Lewis Hamilton, demoted to the back of the grid with his qualifying times excluded after stopping on track due to running with low fuel, he managed to make a two-stop strategy work by finishing eighth in his McLaren, one place ahead of team-mate Jenson Button.
Vettel now leads the championship on countback from Alonso, with the duo tied on points, with Hamilton falling eight points down.
A very happy 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 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.”
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.”
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