Pastor Maldonado sealed his first ever F1 win with a brilliant drive in Spain, home favourite Fernando Alonso had to make do with 2nd place as Maldonado earned Williams’ first victory since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004 and the first for a Venezuelan in F1’s entire history.
Maldonado has been regularly described as a ‘pay driver’ since his arrival into F1 but around the Circuit da Catalunya it was a show of dominance as he kept Alonso behind to become the fifth winner in as many races. 2012 is the year that just keeps on shocking us.
The rarity of his position was never obvious as Maldonado, who looked like a man used to being up at the sharp end, showed a mature head to bring the car home under huge pressure from Fernando Alonso.
It is fitting that as the 70th birthday celebrations of Sir Frank Williams were in full swing this weekend, they chalked up their first win since 2004, especially after it only being one year on from the worst season in their history, it wasn’t just a lucky win as Maldonado lapped a Red Bull and he also left McLaren trailing by over a minute.
Although pre-race expectations that both Maldonado and Alonso not being able to keep their surprisingly high positions, it was almost suddenly obvious that the Williams and Ferrari, well at least in the hands of their lead drivers, were the quickest cars on show as the pair battled for the lead from first corner to last.
Kimi Raikkonen’s late attack saw him close to under three seconds of Alonso at the chequered flag, But on a track that was described as giving the ultimate test to show the season’s pecking order, it would be Williams and Ferrari in a return to the old days who held the clear advantage.
It may have been different had the Lotus chose the hard tyres instead of the softs at the first pitstops or if Hamilton who drove brilliantly in his defeat of Jenson Button for eighth place having started from the back of the grid, fourteen places behind the grid position of his McLaren team-mate had not been slowed by his team’s latest error, but it would be harsh to suggest that Maldonado’s win was anything other than deserved.
Only once did his team buckle, when a sticky left-wheel nut at Maldonado’s third and final stop saw his advantage halved, but otherwise it was a brilliant race for him, And against Alonso, whose excellence has been shown many times before, makes it all the more incredible.