Pastor Maldonado enjoys Spanish GP stunner
Pastor Maldonado dedicated his first ever Formula One victory to his long-suffering Williams outfit, but celebrations were brought to a halt after a fire gutted the team's garage following the race.
Nine people were hurt when the blaze, thought to be caused by a KERS-related explosion, broke not long after Maldonado had clinched the British crew’s first chequered flag in 132 races.
Team founder and principal Frank Williams, who is in a wheelchair, had been in the Circuit de Catalunya garage when it went up in flames but was wheeled to safety, his daughter Claire revealed.
Caterham said four of their staff had been taken to the circuit medical centre for examination, while Force India deputy chief Bob Fernley said one of his staff also received treatment for smoke inhalation.
Earlier, Maldonado had barely rated a mention heading into the weekend but came through an enthralling duel with home hero Fernando Alonso to edge the Ferrari driver by 3.1 seconds with Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen finishing a close-run third.
The first Venezuelan driver to stand on the podium, let alone win, the 27-year-old became the fifth different winner from five races and as many teams - a phenomenon only ever seen before in 1983. It was also Williams’ first win since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, and a jubilant Maldonado said: “It is a wonderful day, not only for me, but the team.
“It was a tough race, especially with the strategy because of the tyres. Alonso made a better start, but I followed the pace, the car was strong.”
Maldonado did get a slice of luck after being gifted pole position when Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid because McLaren put too little fuel in his car for qualifying. However, the former GP2 champion grabbed his chance with both hands, and he added: “This is my first podium, my first victory, so you can imagine what I feel.”
The shocks continued all the way down the leaderboard with Romain Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi coming in ahead of reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, who finished sixth to now share the overall lead in the drivers’ standings with Alonso.
And with his car sporting a new upgrade package this weekend, the Spaniard is happy to be in the hunt for the title again.
“We were lucky at the end with Kimi closing in, but this second place is fantastic, a step forward in terms of the championship,” Alonso said.