Courtesy of Ferrari Press Office
Spanish Grand Prix
Last year's Spanish Grand Prix at the Montmeló track
Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado took his place on the prized Formula 1 podium for the first time after he secured his first career win as an unlikely victor in the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya.
The triumph was the first for team Williams since Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya's victory in Brazil eight years ago, sparking jubliant celebrations from team principal Sir Frank Williams. However, the momentous occasion was overshadowed by a fire which engulfed the Williams' garage, injuring 16 people. Maldonado's elation was halted when he rescued his 12 year-old cousin from the flames. The fire had supposedly been caused by an electrical fault in a fuel rig at the back of the garage. Nonetheless it signalled one of the most remarkable weekends in recent formula 1 memory.
Prior to qualifying, Maldonado was a 300-1 outsider to lift the trophy but he surged into poll position after Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid for fuel irregularities, despite finishing first.
Williams had endured their worst Formula 1 season last year and it was highly anticipated that their Venezuelan representative could not sustain his qualifying form. Maldonado's previous best finish in 24 Formula 1 races was eighth place in Shanghai in April but he produced a controlled and admirable display to hold off the strong challenges of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who finished second and third respectively.
Lewis Hamilton produced an impressive comeback, finishing eighth despite starting in 24th place, while seven-time champion Michael Schumacher continued his disappointing season by crashing into the back of Maldonado's unfortunate team-mate Bruno Senna, causing both of them to retire.
"It's an unbelievable feeling winning my first race. The car felt really consistent, was fantastic to drive and our pace was strong throughout. 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."
It marks a fascinating start to the 2012 season, in which five different winners from five different teams have won the first five races, a feat that has not occurred since 1983.
2012 Santander Spanish Grand Prix result
1) Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
2) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3) Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
4) Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
5) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
6) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
7) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
8) Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
9) Jenson Button (McLaren)
10) Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
The 2012 Formula 1 standings can be found here.