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. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 13th May 2012, 20:04

    Well done to Williams and Maldonado. That car showed unbelievable pace and performance and I really don’t understand how they gained it. Personally, as a Force India fan, I feel that the team has been caught out by Sauber, Williams and Lotus. Did they miss the experience of Adrian Sutil over the winter? I suppose yes and maybe a bit of his driving skill as well. I hope that they can improve but I’m not going to put my money on it till Spa.

    One of my fears for Williams is that the last time they gained Pole position in a race it lead to their worst season in memory. Also over the last two years, their development tended to slow down halfway through the season and that led other teams overtake them comfortably. I seriously hope that these things don’t happen.

    Are Ferrari back on form? Probably not. Alonso’s skill is still keeping them propped up and I think we may get to a point where as viewers we won’t be able to tell car performance from Alonso’s skill as a racer.

    McLaren have squandered their early season advantage largely due to their own rookie mistakes. A wheel gun failing twice on the same wheel, low fuel? They need to pick up their game fast. Lucky for them people like Maldonado and Perez have scored decent points from their closest rivals. This means that they don’t have a lot of catching up to do.

    On a driver note, Schumacher’s mistake and his sudden lapse of judgement is becoming all too familiar now. I wonder if it is time for him to reconsider his driving and his skill.I wouldn’t mind if it was only the fact that Rosberg was outperforming him. Making errors like that is not expected of someone who has won 7 world titles. He has shown flashes of brilliance and maybe Canada might be the place where he can show some of it again.

    • Katz, Tim said on 13th May 2012, 22:49

      “Are Ferrari back on form? Probably not. Alonso’s skill is still keeping them propped up and I think we may get to a point where as viewers we won’t be able to tell car performance from Alonso’s skill as a racer.”
      I was trying to think how to express that opinion, but when I read your post I realised you had it exactly right. Alonso seems to be able to drag the car four or five places higher than it realy deserves. Unfortunately, Massa seems to be in the opposite. Alonso 2nd and Massa 15th, so if you add the positions together and divide by two – maybe Ferrari deserve an 8th place?
      Monster congratulations to Maldonado and Williams! How great it is to see a former championship team return to the top step of the podium; and with a new driver too! And congratulations to Alonso whose skills elevated the car and the team well beyond the heights expected or deserved.
      I do most earnestly hope for a Lotus victory in Monaco as that will seriously set this season as one of the most wide open for years – as long as Alonso doesn’t pick up another second!

    • MjatNaz (@joebravo) said on 14th May 2012, 2:06

      Its human weakness,as you grow older, your responds and judgement gets sloppy…
      Its time to move on for MS

  2. AlexNK said on 13th May 2012, 20:07

    Not bad for a pay driver!
    Pastor, who was labelled by many LH fans the worst driver on the grid, has shown what he can do. Easily eclipsed two WDCs, Alonso and Raikkonen, in the machinery that was by no means superior to theirs – incredible drive! If that was not the drive of the weekend, I don’t know what is. Honorary mention goes to Vettel, who did some fantastic overtaking moves, patricularly on both McLarens, especially impressive since he’s ‘the guy who cannot overtake’.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th May 2012, 23:21

      As much as I appreciate Maldonado had a brilliant race, it takes consistency at that level to win championships. He’s shown what he can do, but people will be more impressed if he does it again.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th May 2012, 0:32

      Agreed Maldonado drove a very good race keeping his Latino temperament in check, pity is we don’t have Barrichelllo as a yardstick to tell us how good the car is.

    • me262 said on 14th May 2012, 10:20

      theres a rumour going around Maldonado is headed to Maranello next season…

  3. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 13th May 2012, 20:54

    DOTW Contenders:

    Maldonado – Almost flawless today, a superlative, mature drive from start to finish. Remained calm & collected throughout the entire race, putting trust & faith in his team & it certainly translated into that victory the team have been desperately wanting.

    Alonso – A tremendous lap in Qualifying (likewise Maldonado & Hamilton) Great start & brought every inch of raw performance out of that Ferrari as usual, pushed the Williams of Maldonado till the end although still delivered something spectacular to his home crowd.

    Hamilton – Fought his way through the field, made some great overtakes in the process. Another display of maturity in him being the only driver to two stop & proved doubters wrong , can’t imagine what could’ve been had he not being excluded from Qualifying altogether or just excluded from Q3. Clearly out-performed Button this weekend.

    Vettel – Strategy of saving tyres for the race didn’t seem to have worked but like Hamilton, a good recovery drive from him, making some brave, valiant moves in the process.

    Raikkonen – A very quiet afternoon for him, we’d expected much more from Lotus this weekend but let’s not take anything away from Kimi; clearly reeled in the front runners at the end & nearly snatched 2nd from Alonso, if only the race was for a few more laps.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th May 2012, 23:15

    The race didn’t disappoint. Maldonado was on it from the get go. Alonso had him at the start but I think they both made good starts, Maldonado made a brave but respectful lunge into defending his position which I’m sure Alonso will admire, given his comments about respect a few days ago.

    Hamilton was brilliant and focussed, Vettel kept cool and did remarkably well considering his penalty. Massa looked amateurish and really didn’t seem to know what he was doing, Schumacher got it wrong but as yet hasn’t admitted so. Alonso looked competitive so considering that’s his highest finish in normal conditions I expect we will see more of his F2012 at the sharp end. Lotus seemed to have it nailed too so well done to them.

  5. thejudge13+ said on 13th May 2012, 23:29

    Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 9th May 2012, 10:20
    All boils to who can lock the front 2 rows.

    Reply Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th May 2012, 10:35
    Are you sure about that?

    In Australia, the top four finishers qualified second, sixth, first and fifth.
    In Malaysia, the top four qualified eighth, ninth, first and fourth.
    In China, the top four were first, fifth, seven and sixth.
    And in Bahrain, the top four started from first, eleventh, seventh and third.

    So I don’t think that anyone in the top four in qualifying will be guaranteed a good place in the race. especially with Pirelli bringing two compounds with a gap between them (hard and soft as opposed to hard and medium).

    Reply thejudge13+ said on 9th May 2012, 10:59
    Chances last year in first 3 races (No Bahrain) of a top 4 qualifier finishing in the top 4 in the race. 66%

    Chances this year of a top 4 qualifier finishing in the top 4 in the race. 44%.

    However in Spain last year 75% of the top 4 Qualifiers finished in the top 4 in the race. And 80% of the top 5 finhished in the top 5.

    I won’t bore you with further stats, however, PM probably isn’t giving enough weight to the nature of the circuit de catalunya.

    It is more likely that top 4 qualifyiers will do better here than in the previous 4 races.

    What is highly probable is that the pole sitter will do well. Pole both last year and this year in the initial 7 flyaway races has always finished in the top 4 in the ensuing race.

    Reply Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 9th May 2012, 11:07
    You can’t apply sabermetrics to Formula 1.

    I think you’ll find after Hamilton’s exclusion, the top 4 qualifiers were the top four finishers. Maybe F1 version of “sabermetrics” has some value.

  6. Mariano (@mariano) said on 13th May 2012, 23:31

    Congratulations to Maldonado and the Williams team. Very nice comeback of the team after so many frustrating years. Honestly I thought that Maldonado was going to make some rookie mistakes but he drove marvelously!

  7. Quanttrader said on 14th May 2012, 0:18

    Lately, F1 is turning into Nascar or Indy car as a random driver with average talents can win due to lucky tire setup. All throughout the race, commentators were talking about tire degradation holding back full petal to the metal racing.

    Pirelli is destroying the F1 I have been watching for past 15 years. Not to mention the brand damage to Pirelli with tire degradation (when I think of Pirelli, I think of tire degradation and probably would never buy Pirelli for my 510 bhp car).

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 14th May 2012, 0:21

      Well, he was GP2 champion. Pastor put in a great drive this weekend, so don’t pee on his parade.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th May 2012, 1:06

        @David-A, Pastor did put in a great drive but was it only because Williams “understand the tyre” or is it possible that Williams have produced winning car this year , after all Frank has always maintained that it is 95% car and 5% driver.
        I don’t want to go on a rant or denigrate Pirelli but I agree with ..trader that these tyres, (3-4 pitstops using hards ) are detrimental to the racing. I believe Williams, McLaren, Lotus, Sauber and RBR all have genuinely fast cars that have performance strengths and failings ( look at the top speed differences for example) that would ensure different results at different tracks even if they all used the same tyre for the whole race.
        In summary the tyres are adding a random factor that only confuses the situation rather than enhances it.

        • Aditya (@) said on 14th May 2012, 5:12

          I agree,there’s something thats very random about these tyres. To me,F1 is more than just about overtakes or excitement,an IndyCar/NASCAR race still features many more on-track battles/overtakes. What made F1 superior is that it captures human endeavour(by both drivers and teams brilliantly). Unfortunately,that is no longer the case with the randomness factor generated by these tyres…i wouldnt want processional races,but i dont think there is any harm in making these tyres a little more durable and doing away with the silly tyre rules.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 14th May 2012, 6:17

          @hohum , @thekingofspa , it’s okay to not like the tyres, but the poster above just came across as disrespectful towards the drivers who have had good results this year to me.

          Maldonado isn’t the best on the grid at the moment, but Williams have a good car, and he wasn’t average under pressure from Alonso yesterday. If “better” tyres would have produced similar results, then the winners this year haven’t been “average” and “lucky” as he/she senselessly claims, they’ve had the best overall package for the given weekend.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th May 2012, 7:31

            Sorry @davidA I missed the reference to ” average talent”, only registered the comparison to Indy/Nascar with their use of the safety car as a random place generator.

    • me262 said on 14th May 2012, 10:48

      when I think of Pirelli, I think of tire degradation and probably would never buy Pirelli for my 510 bhp car

      510 bhp huh…you’d be better off going for bridgestone, look how many titles schumacher won…

      fyi Pirelli are not making their F1 tyres to last 40,000 miles like their road tyres are

  8. sato113 (@sato113) said on 14th May 2012, 1:17

    i think that should ne ‘neatly’ in-
    ‘nearly slotted past to take the lead’
    (coz he did tke the lead in 2011)

  9. Elreno (@elreno) said on 14th May 2012, 6:41

    So now it’s seven winners from the last seven races if you start after Vettel’s final victory of 2011 which occured in India. So starting from Abu Dhabi 2011 it goes – Hamilton, Webber, Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel and Maldonado. Some are saying its “artificial” but for those of us who sat through Schumi’s endless wins not too many years ago this is great! Not to mention of course Vettel’s recent dominance. Who’s next then? Kimi, Grosjean, KK, Perez or even Mr Schumacher? Bring it on.

    • thejudge13+ said on 14th May 2012, 12:02

      People are underestimating the importance qualifying still has when complaining about the tyres.

      Last year in the races up to (and including) Barcelona for cars on the front 2 rows of the grid there was a

      68.25% chance of finishing in the top 4 in the race

      This year there is still a

      55.20% chance of finishing in the top 4 in a race.

      In all of those 9 races the pole sitter has finished in the top 4.

  10. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) said on 14th May 2012, 8:53

    If Williams continue in this vein, don’t be surprised to see Hamilton considering a move there for next season.

  11. George (@abboracing) said on 14th May 2012, 14:27

    just throwing it out there!
    Does anyone see it as a bit of a lottery? Does it not make a mockery of the brilliance of some of the top teams who probably do have the best cars, but cannot make them work on certain tracks with certain tyres?
    Sorry, I don’t see it as necessarily good for the sport to have as some keep banging on about (6 winners in 6 races)
    Don’t get me wrong, was an entertaining race, all the more so with a 12-1 bet on Pasta.
    But lets throw it out there, someone mentioned earlier 12 winners in 12 races, how would this be a good thing?
    I hope we do start to see representative races where the strongest car/team/driver do start to emerge as this is what F1 is about. not every driver getting some silverware to take home.
    As I said just throwing it out there for you sharks to rip me apart over! :-P

  12. Steve (@machinesteve) said on 14th May 2012, 21:34

    There has been some comments on various F1 sites about how things are getting silly and that F1 needs to settle down and have a bit of dominance by a couple of teams.

    But the confusion this year is just evidence that the old rules of terra-byte computing simulation and flow aerodynamics has gone to be replaced by a new direction – traction. Williams have a car that drives like something from 1968 all mechanical grip. Through the chicane and around the corners Pastor was visibly (on TV anyway) tighter to the radius and way better under braking.

    I love it.

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