Faultless Maldonado convinces Williams he has a winner
After Pastor Maldonado’s sensational win at the Circuit the Catalunya, his employer, Sir Frank Williams, is convinced he has a winner in his team. Maldonado, the first Venezuelan ever to win a Formula One race, convincingly won the Spanish Grand Prix, leaving the competition far behind him. The 27-year old driver started from first place of the start grid after McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had been stripped of pole position because he could not bring his car back to the pits under its own power.
At the start of the race Maldonado squeezed Fernando Alonso to the right, all according to the rules and never unfair, but he had to let the Spaniard past as he did not want to risk a crash, as he knew how important it was for his Williams team to go home with a podium place in the bag. After the last tyre stop Maldonado got ahead of Alonso again and thus for the first time in eight years Williams won a Grand Prix again.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling winning my first race,” Maldonado reported after the race. “Alonso was chasing me hard but we looked after our tyres well and I managed to open the gap towards the end. 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 and hopefully I will win more races in the future.”
Maldonado certainly silenced his critics who had labeled him as a talentless pay-driver, he made not one single mistake during the 66 lap long race, he kept his cool even after Alonso came closer and closer at the end of the race. BBC commentator David Coulthard said, “Some said Maldonado was a pay driver and he didn’t deserve his place in Formula One but they’ll be eating their words now.”
“He did a great job, he’s a very happy boy, he deserves to be. He fully deserves to be in the team with or without the dosh. The truth is that if you haven’t got the dosh you can’t go Formula One racing,” said a very happy Sir Frank. He also praised him for his mature driving, “We’ve got a real racing driver as well. I am just astonished by the way he just controlled himself, he didn’t make a mistake at all.”
And he added, “It’s the first race he’s led and as the race goes on you become under more pressure to not think about the podium, not think about what your mother’s going to say, not think how much the prize money is going to be, don’t crash. Don’t make mistakes, brake a little bit earlier, look after it — that’s what you’ve got to do and that’s what he did.”
In his home country Venezuela Maldonado’s victory hasn’t gone unnoticed, he was heralded as a true champion, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tweeted, “I said so: Our Pastor Maldonado won, making history. Bravo Pastor! Congratulations to you and all your fighting team! We shall overcome!”
And Maldonado said, “For sure everyone is so happy in my country. I’m very lucky to have a country behind me, pushing so hard, to see me here in Formula One and especially to be here, between these guys.”
And he became a hero for a second time that day when photos emerged of the Williams garage fire, where Maldonado (who’s first name Pastor means ‘shepherd’ in Spanish) was seen carrying his 12-year old cousin Manuel – wearing a protective boot on a broken right foot – on his back out of the garage into safety.
Asked about the next race in Monaco Maldonado said, “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to be strong again.” And Helmut Marko, Red Bull and Toro Rosso advisor agreed, “If the Williams really has traction that good, then Maldonado will run rings around everyone in Monte Carlo!”