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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Image ?? Williams/LAT

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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
    Begin!

  7. 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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