William's Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado celebrates on the podium at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix. AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff
Pastor Maldonado grabbed an astonishing first Formula One victory on Sunday in a Spanish Grand Prix thriller that handed former champions Williams their first triumph in 132 races and nearly eight years.
The first Venezuelan driver to stand on the F1 podium, let alone win, Maldonado became the fifth different winner from five races won by five different teams - a phenomenon only ever seen before in 1983.
A 300-1 outsider before the weekend, Maldonado delivered Williams' first win since Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya in Brazil in October 2004.
“Very good job, guys,” was all he said over the radio as his team mates erupted in celebrations but Maldonado made up for it on the podium as Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen lifted him on their shoulders.
Then the champagne flowed. The pole had fallen into his lap after Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid on Saturday because McLaren put too little fuel in his car for qualifying, and the former GP2 champion grabbed his chance with both hands.
Spain's double champion Alonso finished second, 3.1 seconds behind, to move level with Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel on points at the top of championship.
Finland’s 2007 champion Raikkonen was a disappointed third, taking the chequered flag 3.8 seconds behind Maldonado after just running out of laps in a spirited chase for a possible victory.
Vettel, who finished sixth, and Alonso each have 61 points, with Hamilton on 53.
It was the 114th win for Williams, nine times constructors' champions whose last title was in 1997 with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve.
It came the day after Formula One gave team founder and principal Frank Williams a belated 70th birthday party.
Williams’ ‘fiery’ end
Nine people were hurt when the Williams garage was gutted by fire while the Formula One team were celebrating their first win in nearly eight years at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.
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 told Reuters.
“We have four people in the medical centre at the moment receiving precautionary care and I believe one has been flown off to hospital but that has not been confirmed,” she said.
Caterham, who have an adjacent garage to Williams, said in a statement that four of their staff had been taken to the circuit medical centre for examination — one with a minor hand injury and three with respiratory issues.
Hamilton happy for Williams and Maldonado
Lewis Hamilton shrugged off his own private feelings over a topsy-turvy weekend to congratulate Sir Frank Williams and his team.
Hamilton, who ran to the Williams team garage to see the team founder personally, said he was very happy for Pastor Maldonado. Race classification | Champwatch