Williams secured its first F1 victory for seven-and-a-half seasons when Pastor Maldonado stormed to a shock win in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Venezuelan racer Maldonado had scored a best grand prix finish of eighth prior to Sunday’s race and Sir Frank Williams’ team last took a race win in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix.
However, the 27-year-old was on the pace throughout practice and qualifying as the team’s Renault-powered FW34 proved well suited to Pirelli’s tyre compounds at the Barcelona track.
Maldonado carried that pace through to the race, but was beaten off the start line by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who led the first 27 laps.But Maldonado was able to stay in touch with Alonso, and when Williams made a shrewd tactical decision to pit two laps earlier than the race leader, Maldonado was able to seize the initiative.
The first grand prix win for a Venezuelan racing driver was assured when Alonso began to hit tyre issues in the closing laps.
Maldonado said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. The car felt really consistent, was fantastic to drive and our pace was strong throughout. The team has worked so hard all year and this win is for them. To be the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race is a big honour.”
Near the end Alonso came under pressure from Kimi Räikkonen, who had another strong drive in his Lotus and ended the race less than a second behind the Spaniard.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton put in a stellar performance to finish eighth. The Brit had qualified on pole position, but was banished to the back of the grid because checks revealed he didn’t have enough fuel in his car for a sample to be taken. His team-mate Jenson Button grappled to tame the handling of his car and finished ninth.