Maldonado had been running in sixth place, while pursuing Alonso. Securing the finish would have meant that the Williams F1 team would have scored more points in one race than they did throughout the entire 2011 season.
Maldonado and Grosjean are the 2010 and 2011 GP2 series champions, respectively and underwent extensive preparation for the 2012 F1 season. Grosjean raced in GP2 and also did tyre testing for F1 tyre supplier Pirelli, while Maldonado received extensive coaching from acclaimed racing coach, Rob Wilson.
Grosjean made his F1 debut for Renault (now Lotus F1) in 2009 before returning to GP2, while Maldonado partnered veteran Rubens Barrichello at Williams last year to make his debut.