Maldonado ends Williams’ eight-year wait for a win

2012 Spanish Grand Prix review

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012Pastor Maldonado made history by scoring his first F1 victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

He ended an eight-year win drought for Williams, leading home Fernando Alonso who had been ahead for the first half of the race.

A charging Kimi Raikkonen reeled them in over the final laps and finished within striking distance of Alonso.

Having been handed pole position by Lewis Hamilton’s penalty the day before, Maldonado made a slightly slower start than fellow front row sitter Alonso.

He squeezed the Ferrari to the inside of the circuit, the Ferrari’s wheels touching the grass. But this was familiar territory for Alonso – he’d been in the same position last year, and neatly slotted past to take the lead.

Behind them Raikkonen moved up to third ahead of Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean. Sergio Perez, who had started fifth, picked up a puncture and skidded onto the run-off at turn four, the long trek back to the pits ruining his race.

Mark Webber had got away slowly and fallen behind the fast-starting Jean-Eric Vergne and Felipe Massa – the latter climbing five places from 16th. Unable to make progress, Webber repeated his tactic from China of making an early first pit stop.

He returned to the circuit having lost track position to the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan, who he almost ran into the back of at turn five.

Sebastian Vettel came in the next time by as the other front runners responded by pitting to avoid losing time and places.

Schumacher and Senna collide

Grosjean had been under pressure from Michael Schumacher but after they pitted Grosjean was quicker to pass the Williams of Bruno Senna, who was yet to pit.

Schumacher had a run on Senna at the first corner on lap 13, but misjudged the move and ran into the back of the Williams, putting both out. A fuming Schumacher branded Senna an “idiot” – the stewards said the incident would be investigated after the race.

The collision brought the yellow flags out which caused a problem for Vettel, who was found to have slowed down insufficiently and was handed a drive-through penalty.

Maldonado jumps ahead

Alonso retained the lead through the first round of pit stops but Maldonado closed in on him during the second stint. On lap 25 Williams were first to blink, pitting Maldonado first in an attempt to use the ‘undercut’ to get him ahead.

Maldonado’s out-lap was superb – covering the middle sector 1.3 seconds faster than Alonso had. Ferrari kept Alonso out despite him catching the driveshaft-troubled Marussia of Charles Pic to lap him.

Pic made way at turn one, Alonso gesturing angrily at the driver, who was later issued a penalty but never served it as his car problem became terminal.

Alonso’s lap 27 pit stop saw Maldonado easily take over the lead. Within two laps he had a seven second margin over the Ferrari.

Hamilton fights back

Meanwhile Hamilton had made good progress having started last. By lap three he had passed Senna for 17th at turn seven, and in the following laps he picked off Kovalainen, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg – the latter running wide at Campsa.

He rose as high as fourth place during the first round of pit stops as the team edged towards a two-stop strategy, counter to the three stops being favoured by most. But the plan nearly went off the rails when he clipped his discarded left-rear tyre while exiting the pits, losing several seconds – another problem on pit lane for McLaren.

On his return to the pits he picked off Hulkenberg and Webber. Hamilton spent much of the remainder of the stint stuck behind Massa until the Ferrari driver was found guilty of the same infraction as Vettel and was also penalised.

His second and final pit stop came on lap 36. Despite needing to look after his tyres he lost no time passing the two Toro Rossos, squeezing past them in the first corners.

Alonso gives chase

During the third stint Alonso gradually eroded Maldonado’s advantage. By lap 41 the gap was down to 4.1s. On the next lap Maldonado came in but a problem with his right-rear wheel delayed him.

Ferrari left Alonso out for three more laps, and he returned to the track three seconds behind the Williams. But now they had another problem: Raikkonen, who was yet to pit and now right in front of Maldonado.

The Lotus driver was also three-stopping. Raikkonen’s engineer told him Alonso and Maldonado were likely to make four stops, which turned out not to be the case.

First Maldonado, then Alonso picked off the Lotus on the pit straight. Raikkonen’s late final pit stop would bring him back into contention later on. After clearing Raikkonen, Alonso drew close enough to Maldonado to activate his DRS on the straight.

He wasn’t close enough to pass, and when they lapped Massa and Paul di Resta Maldonado took the opportunity to use his DRS and pull away from the Ferrari.

Alonso came back at him and closed to within six-tenths of a second of the Williams at one point. But just as he looked poised to strike the Ferrari began to slip back, Maldonado gaining time in the final sector of the lap and edging back out of DRS range.

Now Raikkonen was catching the pair of them – but the laps were ticking away too quickly for him to do anything about the leaders.

Victory for Maldonado

After 66 laps, Maldonado came home to win by 3.1 seconds, ending Williams’ eight-year wait for a Grand Prix victory. Raikkonen slashed 1.6 seconds out of Alonso’s advantage on the final tour, crossing the line six-tenths behind the Ferrari.

Grosjean and Kobayashi completed the top five, while Vettel recovered to sixth place, passing both McLarens and Rosberg as he recovered from his penalty. Hamilton was climbing over the back of Rosberg for seventh place at the end, team mate Button seven seconds in arrears.

Nico Hulkenberg was the final driver in the points, narrowly fending off Webber – both Red Bulls needing front wing replacements during the race.

The Toro Rosso pair of Vergne and Ricciardo finishing in front of di Resta and Massa. Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock and de la Rosa were the remaining finishers.

It should have been a day of unbridled joy for Williams, who scored their first Grand Prix victory since Juan Pablo Montoya won the Brazilian Grand Prix eight years ago. It came on the weekend Frank Williams celebrated his 70th birthday.

But their celebrations were marred by a serious fire which broke out in their pits a few hours later.

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

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85 comments on Maldonado ends Williams’ eight-year wait for a win

  1. Eggry (@eggry) said on 13th May 2012, 17:30

    I hoped Alonso to be winner but this is good as well. at least we know F2012 is not so bad dog for now.

  2. Ral (@ral) said on 13th May 2012, 17:43

    I don’t think it was picked up in commentary, but Perez’ puncture after the start must have been a result of the battle with Grosjaen (I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault, as they were obviously racing). It fairly ruined his race, but also Kobayashi’s who was right behind Perez before he had to peel off and up to that point probably had the best start of anyone on his fresh tyres.

  3. AmirAnuar (@amiranuar) said on 13th May 2012, 17:44

    for manaco i hope sauber can make 6 manufacture win out of 6 race

    • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 13th May 2012, 17:50

      More likely to be Lotus though no?

      • AmirAnuar (@amiranuar) said on 13th May 2012, 17:57

        can be but i would like it to be sauber.

        • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 13th May 2012, 18:09

          My money’s on Karthikeyan.

          • fedERROR said on 13th May 2012, 19:15

            why not! The way ‘Car’thikeyan gives way – or the lack thereof – to cars about to lap him, and given the fact that Monaco is the tightest track of ‘em all, all he has to is keep bumping off cars that come to lap him, and voila, before our ‘slick’ stewards can react, Karthikeyan would have long crossed the finish line…….ANd then comes the info from race centre ‘Incident involving Carthikeyan and all other cars will be investigated after the race!!!’

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 13th May 2012, 21:53

            Charles Pic here.

      • Aditya (@) said on 13th May 2012, 18:13

        Sauber were really quite strong today,unfortunately,they lost Perez(who had qualified better) after he tangled with GRO on lap 1,but KOB’s race pace was superb. They’ve taken a huge step forward imo. However,i’m worried at the amount of oversteer their cars generate..it will take superhuman efforts on the part of KOB and PER to avoid the Monaco barriers.

        • Andy (@turbof1) said on 14th May 2012, 13:52

          Not necessarily. With monaco you can put up maximum flap angle to generate more downforce without having to deal with the drag consequences, as the straights aren’t long and corners are mostly low speed. So a huge increase of downforce at the front and it’s back in balance.

    • PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 13th May 2012, 22:20

      I guess that the winner will be Hamilton here, and if not, then Raikkonen as the car is quick, or Maldonado as he’s notoriously quick at street circuits, and was running really well in an underdog last year. But it could still be Raikkonen for a 6 in 6 result, and if Hamilton wins, 6 in 6 for the drivers. But I’ve got money down on Ham and Mal, so I hope it’s either of them :P

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th May 2012, 23:03

      @amiranuar I would like to see that. It will be a special weekend for Sauber, given how Perez had that awful crash in qualifying last year and missed that race and the one in Montreal.

  4. BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th May 2012, 17:49

    For me a key moment was when Maldonado quickly got in front of Di Resta before the tighter corner and eked out a bit of a gap to Alonso. And his in and out lap before with his last pitstop and the good job of keeping his tyres alive made the win.

    Good driving from Hamilton, Rosberg, Kimi and Kobayashi, who were able to show us some overtaking skill again. Lets not forget Vettel in that overtaking pack though, he had some really nicely done moves on track as well. Hulkenberg seemed to really come alive defending the last point from Webber as well.

  5. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 13th May 2012, 18:12

    With the way this season seems to be heading, what are the odds on 12 or more drivers taking the chequered flag by the end of the season? I can see Lotus taking victory in Monaco… Great job by Williams and Maldonado though, he’s impressed me this weekend while his teammate has struggled. Still yet to forgive him for swiping at Hamilton though… But he managed to pull a whole weekend together very well.

  6. Aditya (@) said on 13th May 2012, 18:17

    Idk why all these positive vibes for Lotus,they hugely disappointed me with their race pace and their strategy today. Why the hell did RAI not take his last stop earlier?? On the operational front,they’re just about as good as McLaren at the moment!!!!

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 13th May 2012, 22:55

      @thekingofspa had he pitted earlier, the wouldn’t have such a big advantage in terms of tyres to Alonso and Maldonado. I think Lotus were expecting them to fight hard on track, thus ruining their tyres, allowing Kimi to catch up.

      As the fight didn’t quite materialize, Kimi just got near to them. In hindsight, you can say it was a mistake for them to use softs in their second stint, but their decision to leave him on track in the end paid off brilliantly, though it didn’t gain them any position.

      Kimi was some 20 seconds behind them before and after he last pitted, and he managed to close the gap to just 3 seconds on the checkered flag.

  7. sagar atgamkar (@) said on 13th May 2012, 18:20

    and now its not if ferrari replace MAS,but its about when?

  8. sumedh said on 13th May 2012, 18:21

    Just read that Michael has been given a 5-place grid penalty for Monaco. He can’t catch a break this season, can he?

    I don’t think this penalty was necessary. It was a racing incident and both drivers paid the penalty by retiring from the race. Why another penalty then?

  9. OOliver said on 13th May 2012, 18:51

    Congratulations Williams. Very mature display from Maldonado.
    Ferrari still in the fight.
    Lotus a serious team.
    RBR still keeping themselves ahead.
    Mclaren..a team on a suicidal path.
    Hamilton put up a great drive but could not achieve much. Button and Kobayashik started 10th and 9th, shows just how woeful Button’s race was today.
    Kobayashi great performance, and Sauber are getting some things right.
    Tyres???????

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th May 2012, 0:21

      Yes the tyres are giving us different winners every race, we haven’t had this much variety since 1983 when they obviously had similar tyres.
      Oh wait, apparently in 1983 the tyres lasted the whole race, that can’t be right can it?

  10. Stephen Higgins said on 13th May 2012, 19:00

    First win for a Williams-Renault combination since Jacques Villeneuve at Suzuka in 1997. One of the great team-engine combinations, back at the top where they belong.

  11. timi (@timi) said on 13th May 2012, 19:06

    My question is; What on earth happened to Button today? Anywho, I dislike them, but well done to Williams.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 14th May 2012, 7:21

      Jenson was struggling with car balance, understeer and failed to make his tyres work. It’s quite surprising because he’s know to be one of the best on nursing tyres, turns out that “aggressive” Hamilton was smoother in Spain being the only driver with a two stops strategy and finishing in front of Button.

  12. Nigelstash (@nigelstash) said on 13th May 2012, 19:31

    Amazing race – absolutely delighted for Williams, and I reckon they will be on the podium a few more times this season. Lewis starting from the back was always going to be fun and he didn’t disappoint. With so much going on midfield i was watching the on board coverage on the BBC website as much as the tv. At times there was so much happening I didn’t know where to look. Yet again Alonso was amazing, the difference between him and Massa is just ridiculous but I thought Massa drove well today. The gap between them is more to do with Alonso’s genius than Massa’s ineptitude.

    • juergen (@juergen) said on 13th May 2012, 19:45

      Unfortunately, Massa is loosing credibility in many people’s eyes. I hope his team thinks differently, I though Maldonado was going to make a rookie mistake and lose all points. I am surprise.

    • Aditya (@) said on 14th May 2012, 5:05

      Massa did quite well in the race,besides getting penalised for speeding under yellow flags. I think he would have certainly finished in the points had he not got penalised. His qualifying performance was terrible,though.

    • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 14th May 2012, 7:52

      Alonso is a very good driver, on par with Raikkonen, Hamilton or Vettel, but he is not a genius, he is not some kind of racing god. Massa is decisively unimpressive, he is struggling in every race and probably this should be his last season in Ferrari.

    • Solo (@solo) said on 14th May 2012, 21:10

      I disagree, although am sure Alonso is driving well the major part of their difference it certainly has to do with Massa’s ineptitude.

  13. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 13th May 2012, 19:34

    His second and final pit stop came on lap 30

    That would be 36.

    Raikkonen’s final stop seemed very late, but in the end it gained him time – he was closer to Alonso at the end of the race than at the end of the penultimate stint.

  14. kowalsky is back said on 13th May 2012, 19:42

    i am surprise that the fans are not congratulating williams for getting back to the front.
    I imagine is because most have no memory of the great past of the british team, and may be because maldonado didn’t catch most of the fans imagination.
    But i see this as a very histrorical gp, and i am very happy for sir Frank Williams. A perfect gift for his 70th birthday. A victroy that could be compared with the italian gp at monza in 1988.
    i hope is the first of a bunch.

    • juergen (@juergen) said on 13th May 2012, 19:52

      Now is Bruno’s turn to shine *hides*

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 13th May 2012, 21:00

        I hope it happens for Bruno though. He might be a poor qualifier, but has looked better than Pastor in a couple of races.

        • Eleanore (@leucocrystal) said on 13th May 2012, 21:52

          Agreed. He seems very positive about the team despite his troubles, and hopefully he can go on to shine a bit this year as well.

          • Antonio Nartea (@tony031r) said on 14th May 2012, 1:29

            Can’t help but wonder: what if Williams would have gone for Sutil instead of Senna?

            Not trying to discredit Senna or anything and I know this may sound like taking the p*** but I’m still living with the impression that Sutil would have deserved a racing seat more than Bruno this season. And following Maldonado’s drive today, a humble “what if” seems in order. :)

      • Daniel Chico (@daniel-chico) said on 16th May 2012, 3:49

        It would be awesome to see a seventh victory in Monaco to the Senna family *joins in hiding*

  15. sketchyterry (@sketchyterry) said on 13th May 2012, 19:51

    Great drive by Maldonado, I would be surprised if many people thought he would ever win a race in his F1 career. Also great drive from Hamilton to beat Button despite starting 14 places further back.

    And Keith for the Hamilton section “His second and final pit stop came on lap 30″, he didn’t pit then he pitted on lap 36 I think

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